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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (

TheStreet

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General Electric

(GE) - Get General Electric Company Report

posted third-quarter earnings of 27 cents a share, excluding items, but revenue fell 20% to $37.8 billion, mainly because of shrinkage at GE Capital Finance.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected GE to report earnings of 20 cents a share in the September period on revenue of $39.5 billion.

GE said third-quarter earnings from continuing operations were $2.5 billion, or 22 cents a share, including restructuring and other charges of 5 cents a share. In the same period a year earlier, the company posted a profit of $4.3 billion, or 45 cents a share, on revenue of $47.2 billion.

"In a global economic environment that is beginning to slowly recover, GE delivered solid third-quarter business results," said Jeff Immelt, the company's chairman and CEO, in a statement. "We continue to execute on our plan at Capital Finance, perform well in a slow-growth industrial environment and strengthen the balance sheet with strong cash generation. "

GE said profits fell 87% at its Capital Finance division to $263 million in the latest quarter from $2.02 billion in the same period a year earlier. Revenue from the unit totaled $12.2 billion, down 30% from last year's $17.3 billion. The big drag on the profitability of the business was a loss of $538 million from its real estate operations.

But GE added that it's completed its long-term debt funding plan for 2009 for the Capital Finance unit, and that it has pre-funded more than 90% of its plan for 2010. It also said its balance sheet reduction efforts are ahead of plan.

""While it remains a tough environment for GE Capital, we are seeing signs of stabilization," said Immelt. "Every segment at GE Capital was profitable with the exception of Real Estate, which is experiencing a tough environment but where we believe the risks are well understood and manageable."

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but there was no mention of progress on that front in the company's press release.

The Energy Infrastructure division was a big profit driver in the quarter, contributing earnings of $1.6 billion, up 11% from a year ago. The Technology Infrastructure business did well, posting a profit of $1.75 billion in the September period, but that was down 8% from last year's total of $1.9 billion.

The company also reported that cash generated by GE Industrial activities was $4.4 billion for the year, bringing its year-to-date total to $11.5 billion, and putting it on pace to generate more than $15 billion for the full year.

The stock was off 4.8% to $16 in midday action. Volume of 97.6 million was already closing in on the issue's three-month daily average of 101.4 million.

-- Reported by Michael Baron and Joseph Woelfel in New York

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