GE 4Q Profit Falls 46%, Adjusted Net Meets View

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WASHINGTONGeneral Electric said Friday its fourth-quarter earnings dropped 46 percent as it restructured its troubled lending arm. The news comes as the conglomerate says it expects 2009 to be "extremely difficult" amid the financial crisis.

Fairfield, Conn.-based General Electric Co., which makes everything from refrigerator to jet engines, said it earned $3.65 billion, or 35 cents per share, after paying preferred dividends in the quarter ended Dec. 31. That included $1.5 billion in restructuring charges.

The earnings were down from $6.7 billion, or 66 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenue fell 5 percent to $46.2 billion from $48.5 billion a year ago.

GE's earnings from continuing operations before preferred dividends matched analysts' expectations for 37 cents a share. Thomson Reuters said analysts it surveyed were expecting revenue of $48.8 billion.

GE's stock is already down more than 20 percent this year after a steep slide in 2008. Many analysts believe the company could cut its dividend this year or lose its 'AAA' credit rating because of problems at its lending arm GE Capital and the ongoing recession. GE says it plans to keep both.