updated 4/13/2006 12:09:38 PM ET 2006-04-13T16:09:38

General Electric Co. said Thursday its first-quarter profit rose 9 percent as the industrial products, financial services and media conglomerate reported strong orders across the company.

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

The Fairfield, Conn.-based company said net earnings for the three months ended March 31 were $4.3 billion, or 41 cents per share, compared with $3.96 billion, or 37 cents per share, a year ago.

Total revenue climbed 10 percent to $37.8 billion in the latest quarter from $34.4 billion a year ago.

“We had a strong performance in the quarter highlighted by double-digit growth in earnings, revenues and cash flow,” said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt. “Driven by demand for our industrial equipment, momentum in health care and continued performance in our financial services businesses, we achieved 9 percent organic revenue growth.” Organic growth does not typically include results from new businesses acquired in the period.

Earnings from continuing operations were 39 cents per share, which matched the consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

The results included a gain of $300 million from the sale of insurance businesses.

Total orders rose 33 percent. GE said five of its six businesses achieved double-digit earnings growth.

“We’re really executing on company strategy,” Immelt said during a conference call with analysts. “We’ve got a lot of momentum inside the company.”

Its NBC Universal unit, which has lost popular television shows in recent years such as “Friends,” had profits of $654 million, down 8 percent from $709 million a year ago. The television network lost about $70 million in the quarter from its coverage of the Olympics, but expects a slight profit for the year, Immelt said.

Earnings rose 27 percent to $1.17 billion at the company’s commercial finance unit; 21 percent to $496 million in health care; 14 percent to $600 million in industrial; 14 percent to $836 million in consumer finance; and 11 percent to $1.7 billion in infrastructure.

GE reaffirmed 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 $1.99 per share.

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