After All These Quarters, A New Burst Of Energy

Profits soared 19% for the year, buoyed by stellar productivity and sizzling consumer spending

Corporate America is back in the passing lane. Earnings of the 900 companies on BUSINESS WEEK's Corporate Scoreboard zoomed ahead by a remarkable 37% in the fourth quarter and by 19% for the entire year. The 1999 earnings gain for the Scoreboard companies was the largest jump since 1994 and easily bested 1998's slowpoke 2% rise when the economic downturn overseas put the brakes on U.S. profits.

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