General Electric said on Jan. 23 net profit fell 44% in the fourth quarter and 22% for 2008 as the huge U.S. conglomerate weathered "a very tough environment."
Net income for the fourth quarter fell to $3.72 billion and earnings for the full year 2008 dropped 19% to 18.1 billion, which the company said was the third best year in GE history.
GE, which makes aircraft engines, energy equipment and owns the NBC Universal media group, said a major drag on earnings was its financial arm. Profits in the segment fell 67% in the fourth quarter and 29% for 2008.
CEO Jeff Immelt offered a grim assessment of economic conditions looking forward. "We expect 2009 to be extremely difficult," Immelt said. "However, we have taken strong actions to prepare the company, including strengthening cash flow and liquidity; managing costs; taking restructuring charges; intensifying risk mitigation; accelerating cycle of management reviews; and protecting revenue."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009