updated 1/20/2006 9:46:29 AM ET 2006-01-20T14:46:29

General Electric Co. reported Friday its fourth-quarter profit fell 46 percent as the huge industrial products, financial services and media conglomerate took a charge for losses as it sold off its insurance business.

The company, based in Fairfield, said net income was $3.06 billion, or 29 cents a share, for the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with $5.6 billion, or 53 cents per share, a year ago.

Total revenue climbed 3 percent, to $40.7 billion in the latest quarter from $39.7 billion a year ago.

Excluding one time items, GE's earnings matched analysts' expectations for a profit of 55 cents a share, according to a Thomson Financial survey.

GE said all six of its business units achieved double digit earnings growth for the year.

(MSNBC is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC, which is a GE company.)

"We finished 2005 as we expected with a strong quarter in our business segments that capped an excellent year," said GE Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Immelt. "This year we executed on our organic growth initiatives, strengthened our organization and improved our portfolio, including the continued exit from the majority of our insurance businesses."

During the quarter, the company took a nearly $3 billion charge related to discontinued insurance operations.

GE sold most of its insurance unit last year to Swiss Reinsurance Co. for $6.8 billion in cash and stock. The sale completed a strategy to leave a troublesome segment and redeploy cash to investors and faster-growing businesses.

GE said it expects earnings per share of $1.94 to $2.02 this year, up 13 percent to 17 percent. The consensus of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial is for earnings of $1.98 per share.

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