A statistical anomaly or sign of things to come? BUSINESS WEEK's flash earnings report--an early sampling of fourth-quarter results from 80 companies reporting through Jan. 21--came out flat. Revenues rose 6%, while earnings held steady, vs. a 47% jump in flash profits a year earlier. Results were skewed by some large one-time losses: Unisys and Eastman Kodak each took more than $1 billion in charges. But Apple Computer and Computer Associates International returned to profitability after losses in 1996. General Electric and the Big Three carmakers are expected to have strong quarters, but further charges from the likes of Boeing could keep the tally low.
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