Bottom Lines: Not Too Shabby

Never mind the previous quarter, 29% is still a nice rate of growth

Not a bad way to end the century. BUSINESS WEEK's flash report on a fourth-quarter survey of 90 corporations shows an 11% gain in reported revenue and a more than respectable 29% jump in profits. That's nearly half-again the 20% profits growth I/B/E/S projects for the S&P 500. The gains, however, are magnified by comparison with oversized losses reported last year at companies like Union Pacific, Texaco, Chevron, and Wells Fargo. For the financial sector, including banks, brokers, and insurers, earnings bounced back sharply from last year's Asia-induced woes--to a collective 115% gain. Meanwhile, nonfinancial services were up 91%. Tech came out on the losing end, as good results from America Online and Motorola were offset by lackluster ones at IBM, Intel, and Xerox. But even if the current results are reduced after more companies report, we'll take 20% profit growth any time.