Amidst the wheeling and dealing, General Electric (NYSE:GE) took time out Friday to report earnings and issue a minor profit warning.

Before accounting changes, GE's 3Q earnings dropped 2% to $4.0 billion, or $0.40 per share. Earnings after a required accounting change fell 11% to $3.65 billion, while revenues were up 2% year over year to $33.4 billion. Cash flow from operations improved 29% to $7.4 billion.

While GE managed double-digit earnings growth in eight of its 13 businesses, an expected 31% earnings decline in its Power Systems unit impacted results. High raw-materials costs caused a 55% decline at the Plastic Units.

For the fourth quarter, GE said it expects earnings in the range of $0.45 to $0.47 per share, on the short end of the $0.47 analyst estimate. And for the second time this year, the company narrowed its full-year forecast to between $1.55 and $1.57 per share; the estimate had previously topped out at $1.70 and $1.61 in two previous forecasts.

GE also reported yet another acquisition.

Following Wednesday's agreement with Vivendi (NYSE:V) to form NBC Universal, GE announced the $9.5 billion acquisition of Amersham (NYSE:AHM), a British medical diagnostics firm. The all-stock deal further expands GE's Medical Systems business, which will now generate combined revenues of $13 billion for 2003.

With its earnings warning, General Electric injects a hiccup in the positive earnings trend this season. But aside from the expected weakness in Power Systems, the company is growing. If there's a concern, it's the continued acquisition spree -- especially as it's been funded by stock rather than cash.

Jeff Hwang can be reached at