Profits: Torrid Turns Tepid In The First Quarter
Not long ago, Corporate America was racking up stellar earnings numbers the way Michael Jordan pumps in points--showing few signs of wear, despite having been at it forever. Today? Well, at least Jordan is still going strong. But take out the one-time $16 billion gain Ford Motor Co. booked from the spin-off of its Associates First Capital Corp. finance arm, and net income rose only 4% in 1998's first quarter for the 900 companies on BUSINESS WEEK's Corporate Scoreboard. Sales rose a relatively tepid 7%. Back in 1997's first quarter, net income grew a sizzling 21%--about what you would get for the '98 first quarter if you included Ford's dazzling special gain.
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