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Polar Vortex Chilled U.S. Profits in First Quarter

The polar vortex that blanketed big swaths of the U.S. with snow this winter is also giving cover to companies seeking to explain why earnings rose last quarter at the slowest pace in almost two years.

Freezing temperatures and mountains of snow in the first three months of 2014 kept shoppers indoors, grounded flights and made it harder for shippers to fill product orders. As a result, Macy’s Inc. shut 244 stores for at least part of January, Union Pacific Corp.’s trains ran 9 percent slower and Delta Air Lines Inc. canceled 8,000 flights in January and February.