This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, October 12, 2002, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Power up. General Electric's profits getting a 25 percent boost in the third quarter. The results in-line with estimates. I could go on and tell you more but why do that when you can hear from the CEO himself. Joining us now from GE headquarters is the GE, Jeff Immelt.
Jeffrey Immelt, it's good to have you, thanks for coming.
JEFFREY IMMELT, CHMN. & CEO, GENERAL ELECTRIC: Hi, Neil. How are you?
CAVUTO: Good. Apparently, you are, too. You calmed Wall Street's fears today. They were expecting there might be some trouble on the horizon, is there?
IMMELT: Well, Neil, we reported our third quarter earnings. We've talked about an economy that's probably slower today than the one we saw in July. But we talked about how we're equipped to deal with it based on strength of the portfolio and the issues we have going. So I think it's still tough out there, but we did what we said we were going to do.
CAVUTO: It's been tough for the GE shareholders, I should disclose, I am still a GE shareholder from my days at CNBC.
IMMELT: That's good.
CAVUTO: But I'm wondering what do you tell those shareholders, Jeff, who are wondering, what's the deal here? I mean, they doesn't seem to believe or either that or there's a collective view on Wall Street that it can't hold muster much longer?
IMMELT: Well, again, I think it's long-term investment when you invest in GE. If you look at the strength of the portfolio and the growth initiatives we've got going, the company is still well-positioned to grow in a variety of different economies. It's been tough for a lot of big companies this year. The economy is tough to pick, but this is a company that's built to perform over the long term. And that's the reason why people own this company, and that's what they have to keep focused on.
CAVUTO: All right, now, airlines and energy guys, they're some of your big customers. But they are hurting guys right now. Do you worry that your lifeblood might not be that viable for maybe many quarters to come?
IMMELT: You know, Neil, it's always the company people want to pick apart the pieces but they have to look at the totality. Clearly, we're planning for a lower power cycle in 2003. We have been thinking about it and planning for it for the last two years. But you have got to look back five or six years, if you're in the mid-'90s, the power business didn't do anything and NBC and plastics and other businesses carried the load. And that's the way the portfolio works. On the aircraft engine side, look, we've been planning for a downturn in the commercial aviation industry for two years. We are well prepared for it. We are launching six new products this year. And we've got a great service and installed base. So you know, we managed these businesses with intensity, Neil, and you have got to look at the totality of the company and not just pick apart one piece or the other.
CAVUTO: All right, well, I will pick apart a piece. NBC, is the shining part of your company. Revenues there up 30 percent, 1.37 billion. You did not pick apart the cable operations themselves, but how are they doing?
IMMELT: I think that CNBC in a pretty tough cycle is doing pretty well. They have had to cut costs but their operating margin is about flat year-over-year which is good performance.
CAVUTO: What about MSNBC?
IMMELT: MSNBC, the ratings aren't nearly where we'd like them to be and we're going to take some actions to try to get them up there. But.
CAVUTO: All right, let me ask you about MSNBC. I don't want to be too parochial here, because obviously we're FOX. What is the problem there? Now I know you don't settle for second best, and yet, you have got a news channel that is just not getting it done?
IMMELT: Again, my consistent remarks on MSNBC and my charter to the team is to make it interesting and make it competitive…
CAVUTO: Do you watch it?
IMMELT: Sure I do.
CAVUTO: Do you think it is interesting?
IMMELT: I think it is better than it was. And we'll continue to get better.
CAVUTO: How would you.
IMMELT: But I want to.
CAVUTO: How would you make it better?
IMMELT: I want us to be able to take you on. No, I think the standard right now is FOX. And I want to be as interesting and as edgy as you guys are. I think it is the standard right now.
CAVUTO: So when you say we're the standard, Jeff, by that do you mean you want MSNBC to, in its programming day and night to be like FOX or to be like CNN?
IMMELT: I want it to be interesting, Neil. I don't categorize it necessary as FOX or CNN. But I want it to be edgy and I want it to be interesting.
CAVUTO: OK. What about CNBC? Obviously, the market doesn't help matters any there but it's not benefiting even on strong market days, what do you make of that?
IMMELT: I think CNBC, the team is doing a fabulous job. Sometimes, Neil, you just are what you are. And CNBC is a business news channel. They have got to stay focused on what they do. And I think the team in a very tough environment is doing a great job.
CAVUTO: So you wouldn't change anything there?
IMMELT: I wouldn't change a thing about CNBC.
CAVUTO: You would change MSNBC but you wouldn't change CNBC?
IMMELT: I want MSNBC to be more interesting and edgier. I think CNBC is doing a great job in a tough cycle.
CAVUTO: All right. About Rupert Murdoch, that he might make a move for DirecTV, how would that effect you if he does and if he succeeds?
IMMELT: Not at all. Again, I just think if you have got good programming, you're going to be able to get it to your consumers. And that's a game that Rupert wants to play, he can have at it.
CAVUTO: If, for example, a third entry were to come in, let's say a Cablevision, would that make any difference to GE or what GE might or might not do?
IMMELT: Not at all.
CAVUTO: So you're not at all interested in that in one way, shape or form?
IMMELT: Not at all. I've said, Neil, consistently, that I like the businesses we're in. I'll continue to go deeper in the businesses we're in, but I didn't want to be in the studio business, necessarily. And I didn't want to be in the cable or satellite distribution business. Those are businesses with different capital structures and not exactly where I want to go.
CAVUTO: Jeff Immelt, it's a pleasure, always good seeing you.
IMMELT: Thanks, Neil.
CAVUTO: The chairman and CEO of General Electric, Jeff Immelt.
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