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NBCU Profit Up 38% in Fourth Quarter

Delay of NBCU majority stake to Comcast resulted in lower tax rate for GE

General Electric announced Friday that NBC-Universal profits soared 38 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, expected to be GE's last full quarter as majority owner part of NBCU.

GE topped expectations in part because of a lower-than-expected tax rate, which resulted from the sale of its majority stake in NBCU to Comcast not taking place in the fourth quarter. The sale, approved this week by federal regulators, is now expected to close next Friday.

“While we previously anticipated the sale of our majority stake in NBC Universal would close in the fourth quarter of 2010, it is now scheduled to close in the first quarter of 2011," GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt said in a statement. "This delay resulted in a lower-than-expected tax rate in the fourth quarter and will lead to a higher tax rate in the first quarter. We expect this will contribute to a significantly higher GE tax rate for full-year 2011."

GE said its company-wide net income for the last three months of 2010 was up 51 percent, to $4.5 billion or 42 cents a share from $3 billion or 28 cents in the fourth quarter of 2009. Earnings from continuing operations were $3.9 billion or 36 cents a share compared with $3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009, topping analysts’ expectations of 32 cents a share.