For the past year Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Inc. has run cartoon advertising headlined "It's Only a Penny," showing that one cent's worth of electricity will toast 26 slices of bread. Last week the $1,300,000,000 utility issued its third-quarter earnings report. Its net income of $3,506,027 was enough to toast 156 slices of bread for the holder of each share of its common stock—precisely 26 slices more than for the same period last year.

Consolidated Edison was more fortunate than most businesses. Vast majority of third-quarter earnings, though somewhat better than...

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