NBC Universal Writes Down ION Stake

Profit down 41% in second quarter

NBC Universal is taking a $95 million write-down on its minority stake in Ion Media Networks, according to parent General Electric which reported second quarter results Friday morning.
NBC Universal saw a 41% drop in profit to $539 million in the second quarter 2009. Revenue fell 8% to $3.6 billion. Speaking on an earnings call Friday, General Electric CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, said the outlook for the media company was for flat earnings for the second half, previous guidance had been for a slightly better performance. "The markets are tough but the teams are executing well," added Immelt.
CFO Keith Sherrin explained that the NBCU results were not as negative as they might first appear. He explained that $200 million of the revenue decline referred to two items. The company had no repeat of its sale of Sundance Channel interest which showed a gain of $113 million in the year ago quarter, while the $95 million Ion write-down accounted for the rest of figure.
At the network, Sherrin said the company was pleased with transition of Conan OBrien and Jimmy Fallon into their new late night slots. He said broadcast network revenue would be down 9%. "The upfront is very slow, were planning on retaining more inventory," added Sherrin.