GE Healthcare continues to recover from a sharp drop in hospital spending earlier in 2009, posting its best numbers of the year during the fourth quarter, but still trailed year-over-year comparisons during the three months ended Dec. 31.
The medical-equipment manufacturing unit at General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE) generated $4.7 billion in revenues during the quarter, up nearly $900 million from the previous three-month period. Segment profit topped the previous quarter by $403 million, or 79.3 percent, climbing from $508 million during the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2009, to $911 million over the final three months of the year.
GE officials said the healthcare unit benefited from “solid” growth in fourth-quarter orders, adding the unit began the new year with a larger backlog than it did at the start of 2009. GE Healthcare, which enjoyed productivity gains throughout the year, in April announced a $250 million, five-year partnership with Intel Corp. (NSDQ:INTC) to support new telemedicine initiatives while also completing the November acquisition of privately held ONI Medical Systems Inc., a Wilmington, Mass-based maker of specialty MRI devices.
Year-over-year comparisons were far less positive. Segment revenues and profits during the fourth quarter fell 2 percent and 3 percent, respectively, from $942 million in profits on $4.8 billion in revenues during the three months ended Dec. 31, 2008.
For the full year, revenues for the healthcare segment were $16 billion, down 8 percent from the $17.4 billion recorded during 2008. The 2009 segment profits of $2.4 billion marked a $118 million, or 15 percent, decline from $2.8 billion in profits at GE Healthcare in 2008.
GE Healthcare produces medical imaging, patient monitoring and diagnostics equipment as well as disease, drug and biopharmaceutical research and manufacturing tools.