The Good, The Bad, And The Unknown

Roiling, roiling, roiling. With interest rates on the rise and inflation lurking, the stock market has been jittery. Add another item for traders to worry about: the prospect that corporate earnings may not be as strong as forecasters had predicted. Measured by BUSINESS WEEK'S flash report of first-quarter profits, however, most of the news should be good. Average earnings were up 21%, on a 9% jump in sales. Early results don't include the major oil companies, Ford, GM, and IBM. Once they check in, profits will shrink somewhat. Then the market may really need a tranquilizer.

TABLE:         Current qtr. sales            Qtr. profits     Est. EPS  Reported
              (Millions)              % chg. (Millions) % chg.  (2/17)  EPS    Diff.
      
      INDUSTRIALS          92,091.3     +8    6,842.5   +10     0.81    0.81  --
      ABBOTT LABORATORIES   2,215.2     +8      366.2   +6      0.46    0.45   -0.01
      ALCOA                 2,221.6     +5      -40.4   NM      0.00    0.04*  +0.04
      BOISE CASCADE         1,014.1     +3      -37.6   NM      -0.81  -1.35   -0.54
      BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB  2,833.9     +3      581.0   +1      1.14    1.14    --
      CATERPILLAR           3,286.0    +22      192.0  +465     0.92    1.89   +0.97
      CHAMPION
      INTERNATIONAL         1,226.1     -3      -31.0   NM     -0.27   -0.41   -0.14
      CHRYSLER             13,223.0    +21      938.0   +77     2.19    2.55   +0.36
      COCA-COLA             3,352.0    +10      521.0   +15     0.41    0.40   -0.01
      CORNING                 948.9    +15       58.0   +16     0.27    0.28   +0.01
      CPC INTERNATIONAL     1,737.7     +6       98.1    +9     0.63    0.63    --
      GENERAL ELECTRIC     14,182.0    +10    1,068.0    -2     1.49    1.50*  +0.01
      GOODRICH (B. F.)        502.4    +33        4.9     NM      NA    0.11    NA
      HASBRO                  489.1      0       26.7    +1      0.32   0.30   -0.02
      IBP                   2,819.4     +3       20.9   +69     0.44    0.43   -0.01
      INLAND STEEL          1,075.7    +14        9.2   NM      0.20    0.03   -0.17
      INTERNATIONAL PAPER   3,400.0     +1       72.0   +13     0.79    0.58   -0.21
      LILLY (ELI)           1,637.0     +5      330.7   -11     1.25    1.14   -0.11
      LOCKHEED              3,025.0    +21       92.0   +21     1.40    1.45   +0.05
      McDONNELL DOUGLAS     2,953.0    -18      134.0   -25     2.70    3.41   +0.71
      MERCK                 3,514.3    +48      675.2   +10     0.56    0.54   -0.02
      PHILIP MORRIS        12,727.0     +1    1,171.0   -4      1.24    1.34   +0.10
      REEBOK INTERNATIONAL    857.4     +4      65.8    -3      0.80    0.77   -0.03
      REYNOLDS METALS       1,261.1     +2      -21.1   NM      -0.41  -0.46   -0.05
      RUBBERMAID              491.6     +2      50.6    +2      0.35    0.32   -0.03
      UNION CARBIDE         1,126.0     -6      63.0    +50     0.30    0.39   +0.09
      UPJOHN                  916.0      0      134.8   -11     0.71    0.76   +0.05
      UNITED TECHNOLOGIES   4,838.0     -1      106.0   +66     0.83    0.73   -0.10
      WEYERHAEUSER          2,385.8     +2      126.5   -29     0.60    0.62   +0.02
      WHIRLPOOL             1,832.0     +4      67.0   +272     0.93    0.90   -0.03
      SERVICES             34,592.7    +12     4,556.8  +42     0.74    0.86   +0.12
      AMR                   3,808.0      0       -7      NM     -0.02  -0.30   -0.28
      BANK OF NEW YORK         NA      NA      178.0   +33     1.55    1.73*  +0.18
      BANKAMERICA              NA      NA      513.0   +6      1.26    1.27   +0.01
      BLOCKBUSTER
      ENTERTAINMENT           883.0    +46     72.6    +62     0.28    0.29   +0.01
      CBS                   1,246.9    +42     69.3    +28     3.28    4.23   +0.95
      CHASE MANHATTAN          NA      NA      364.0   NM      1.14    1.80   +0.66
      CHEMICAL BANKING         NA      NA      319.0   -6      1.20    1.13   -0.07
      CITICORP                 NA      NA      609.0   +65     1.12    1.24   +0.12
      CONSOLIDATED
      FREIGHTWAYS           1,103.2    +11     15.3    +85     0.21    0.28   +0.07
      CONTINENTAL BANK         NA      NA      63.0    +3      0.88    1.02   +0.14
      DOW JONES               499.2     +8     43.2    +40     0.37    0.43   +0.06
      FEDERAL HOME
      LOAN MORTGAGE         1,574.0    +35     277.0   +37     1.14    1.44   +0.30
      FOOD LION             1,804.0     +9      31.2    +42     0.07    0.06   -0.01
      HILTON HOTELS           338.8     +2      22.7    -2      0.52    0.47   -0.05
      HOME SHOPPING NETWORK   274.2    +15      6.7     NM      0.20    0.07   -0.13
      HUMANA                  853.0     +9      32.0    +78     0.18    0.20   +0.02
      ITT                   5,548.0     +3      319     +82     1.53    1.77   +0.24
      McGRAW-HILL             559.8    +20     15.0    -2      0.21    0.30   +0.09
      MERRILL LYNCH         4,738.8    +20     371.8   +9      1.41    1.68   +0.27
      MORGAN (J. P.)            NA     NA      345.0   -20     1.84    1.69   -0.15
      NATIONSBANK               NA     NA      417.0   +48     1.39    1.52   +0.13
      NORWEST                   NA     NA      190.5   +20     0.58    0.59   +0.01
      OFFICE DEPOT            994.8    +71     22.9    +62     0.21    0.23   +0.02
      PAINEWEBBER GROUP     1,082.4    +16     55.6    -21     1.10    0.71   -0.39
      ROADWAY SERVICES      1,023.7    +20     15.9    -21     0.49    0.40   -0.09
      SCHWAB (CHARLES)        323.1    +20     38.2    +8      0.56    0.65   +0.09
      TIME WARNER           3,485.0     +6    -51.0   NM      -0.19  -0.14   +0.05
      TRIBUNE                 482.8    +11     40.1    +35     0.48    0.53   +0.05
      USAIR                 1,685.9     -2     -196.7  NM      -1.22  -3.64   -2.42
      WELLS FARGO               NA      NA     202.0   +87     3.16    3.41   +0.25
      WMX TECHNOLOGIES      2,284.1     +7      162.6   -18     0.36    0.34   -0.02
      TECHNOLOGY           21,531.9    +16     1,640.3  +21     0.82    0.87   +0.05
      ADVANCED MICRO
      DEVICES                 513.1    +26     84.6    +38     0.55    0.85   +0.30
      COMPAQ COMPUTER       2,278.0    +41     213.0  +109     1.69    2.40   +0.71
      CONNER PERIPHERALS      564.0     +1      23.8    NM      0.25    0.46   +0.21
      DIGITAL
      EQUIPMENT*******      3,258.8     -6      -183.3  NM      -0.40  -1.34   -0.94
      
      GENENTECH               189.0    +33     38.9   +171     0.19    0.33   +0.14
      INTEL                 2,660.0    +31     617.0   +13     1.34    1.40   +0.06
      MICROSOFT*******      1,244.0    +30     256.0   +5      1.01    0.84   -0.17
      MOTOROLA              4,693.0    +29     298.0   +46     0.51    0.54   +0.03
      POLAROID                462.6     -1      1.4     NM      0.13    0.03   -0.10
      RAYTHEON              2,314.0     +5      169.3   +7      1.30    1.25   -0.05
      SUN MICROSYSTEMS      1,196.0     +5      57.5    +11     0.64    0.60   -0.04
      TRW                   2,159.4     +6      64.1    +25     0.92    0.97   +0.05
      UTILITIES & TELECOM  41,819.6     +6   3,523.1    +19     0.70    0.66   -0.04
      
      AMERITECH             2,990.4     +7      43.8    -85     0.66    0.69*  +0.03
      AT&T                 16,560.0     +5   1,094.0    +17     0.78    0.80   +0.02
      BELL ATLANTIC         3,373.2     +7      395.9   +6      0.88    0.91   +0.03
      COMSAT                  169.5     +2      18.3    0       0.48    0.45   -0.03
      DOMINION RESOURCES    1,167.0     +6      151.4   +14     0.75    0.84   +0.09
      ENRON                 2,449.7    +32     173.1   +18     0.71    0.70   -0.01
      GTE                   4,746.0     -2      504.0   +10     0.53    0.52   -0.01
      OHIO EDISON             601.2     +1      69.3    +1      0.48    0.44   -0.04
      PACIFIC TELESIS       2,294.0      0       282.0   NM      0.72    0.67   -0.05
      PUBLIC SERVICE
      ENT. GROUP            1,794.4    +13     239.9   +7      0.91    0.94   +0.03
      SPRINT                3,033.2    +12     227.4   NM      0.55    0.65   +0.10
      US WEST               2,641.0     +5      324.0   +9      0.75    0.73   -0.02
      
              NA = not available      NM = not meaningful     ******* Third-quarter results   * EPS adjusted for special items
      DATA: STANDARD & POOR'S COMPUSTAT, A DIVISION OF MCGRAW-HILL INC. EARNINGS ESTIMATE DATA PROVIDED BY I/B/E/S INC., NEW YORK, NY. I/B/E/S IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF I/B/E/S INC.
      
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