With Profits Puny, The Mood Among Ce Os Is Sour

Centel's yearend numbers were the kind any chief executive would boast about: Powerful growth in the cellular-phone business sparked a 21% increase in fourth-quarter operating profits. Counting one-time gains, net profits soared 158%, to $25.7 million. But Centel Corp. Chairman John P. Frazee Jr. is hardly beating his chest. "I don't believe our numbers reflect any strength in the economy," he says. "I'm not an economy basher, but I don't think anyone in our industry would tell you that it has turned."

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