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GE's fourth quarter profit falls 46 percent, hurt by finance unit

GE's fourth quarter profit falls 46 percent, hurt by finance unit

General Electric Co.'s fourth-quarter net income fell 46 percent, weighed down by its ailing financi

General Electric Co.'s fourth-quarter net income fell 46 percent, weighed down by its ailing financial business and capping a difficult year for the industrial giant.

The iconic American company that makes everything from refrigerators to jet engines, owns a television network, and runs a huge loan and lease business, has struggled with tumbling profits at its finance arm, a dropping stock price and loss of investor confidence.

Shares fell 78 cents, or nearly 6 percent, to $13.48 in premarket trading after the company reported results this morning.

Investors worry GE will cut its dividend or lose its prized "AAA" credit rating on account of a brutal recession that has crimped lending at GE Capital and stung its industrial and entertainment businesses.

But the company today reaffirmed plans to both pay the $1.24 dividend and defend the rating.

“We run the company to have a Triple-A credit rating, and we have significantly strengthened our liquidity position,” said Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt. “We believe the GE dividend provides our investors with a solid return in this uncertain time.”

GE reported earnings of $3.65 billion, or 35 cents per share, after paying preferred dividends. That was down from $6.7 billion, or 66 cents per share, a year earlier.

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