Should GE spin off NBC Universal?


General Electric Company

(GE) seems to be in the news lately. Part of the reason could be its stock which has fallen 83 percent under its current CEO -- thanks in part to problems with its finance unit. But the other part is that its News and CNBC units are proving newsworthy. Unlike its competitors, NBC's news division is reportedly making a profit thanks to ratings leadership. And CNBC is enjoying a ratings boost and cross-over visibility -- through a lengthy mockery on Viacom's (VIA) Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

As a GE shareholder, I would love to be able to benefit from the profit growth that is likely to follow all that popularity -- and ditch the deathly financial services and other parts of GE that seem to be suffering from this Little Depression we're going through. Unfortunately, if GE spun off NBC Universal, it would mean ditching one of the only parts of the company that seem to be working well at the moment that could be sold with less disruption to GE's other operations. (Its Energy Infrastructure and Technology Infrastructure segments both showed stronger profit growth but they could be harder to sell in this environment and would be tough to disentangle).