NEW YORK (CNNfn) - General Electric Co., the global conglomerate, posted record third quarter earnings Thursday as nearly all the company's operating units posted solid results.
GE Chairman John Welch said the results, driven by global growth, expansion of product services, rapid introduction of new products and quality initiatives, "position GE to deliver another year of record performance in 1999."
The Fairfield, Conn.-based company posted record earnings for the quarter of $2.653 billion, or 80 cents per diluted share, up 16 percent from $2.284 billion, or 69 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts polled by First Call Corp. had expected GE to report a profit of 79 cents per share.
"Sixteen percent growth is outstanding," said Kent Newcomb, an analyst at A.G. Edwards. "There's no other way to put it."
Revenue rose 13 percent to a record $27.2 billion. GE's third-quarter operating margin was 16.7 percent of sales, up from last year's 15.5 percent and a record for the quarter.
General Electric, one of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones industrial average, is a diversified conglomerate with businesses that include aircraft engines, financial services, broadcasting, power generators, appliances, lighting and medical systems.
Officials said the company's aircraft engines unit continued to win more than 50 percent of the world's engine orders for airline passenger jets in the three month period that ended Sept. 30..
Its NBC broadcasting unit, which saw its profits rise 31 percent to $265 million, won key demographic and household ratings during the first week of the new fall season. NBC also agreed to make a significant investment in Paxson Communications (PAX), the nation's third largest independent television broadcasting company.
"Advertising was very strong," Newcombe said. "The cable business is doing very well. They're a big player on the Internet. They had a very good quarter, even though the network side of the game is shrinking at an inexorable pace. Eyeballs are straying a little bit to cable, a little bit to the Internet. That's why television broadcasters have to be involved in these two growing areas."
GE Capital Services' third quarter earnings rose 17 percent to $1.08 billion, the company said, reflecting the globalization and diversity of GE Capital's 28 businesses. GECS' results were driven by double-digit increases in its Consumer Services and Mid-Market Financing segments.
The appliance division was one of the few disappointments with profits dropping 28 percent.
Shares of GE (GE) were down 1-3/4 to 121-15/16 in late afternoon trading.