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Earnings Rise at General Electric

It matches analysts' forecasts on a slight dip in revenue.
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Updated from 7:41 a.m. EDT

General Electric

(GE) - Get General Electric Company Report

posted slightly higher earnings in its first quarter compared with last year because of an accounting charge in the year-ago quarter, but said earnings fell slightly with items backed out. Revenue also sagged as power-turbine sales dropped and last year's Olympics made for a tough comparison at NBC.

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The Fairfield, Conn., industrial conglomerate earned $3.0 billion, or 30 cents a share, on revenue of $30.3 billion in the latest quarter. The earnings reflected a 2-cent accounting charge. Last year, the company earned $2.5 billion, or 25 cents a share, on revenue of $30.5 billion. The quarter included a 10-cent accounting charge.

Before the accounting item, the company earned $3.2 billion, or 32 cents a share, in the latest quarter, matching expectations. The company also backed its full-year earnings forecast of $1.55 to $1.70 a share.

The shares were recently off 1% to $27.10 on Instinet.

GE's primary weakness was its power systems unit, which has seen demand slacken following the big utility buildout of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The company's plant in Greenville, S.C., shipped 33 heavy-duty gas turbines in the first quarter, down from 69 a year ago. Overall, power-systems revenue fell 20% to $4.2 billion. NBC's overall revenue fell 26% to $1.5 billion.

In other segments, revenue mainly rose. Among the bigger units, it was up 8% at commercial finance to $4.3 billion; it rose 16% at consumer finance to $2.8 billion; it rose 10% at insurance to $6.4 billion; it rose 15% at medical systems to $2.1 billion; and it rose 16% at industrial products and systems to $1.9 billion.