AVIATION: The Fortunes of War

U.S. investors got a classic example last week of the hazards in estimating wartime corporation profits. Out with their annual reports were Cessna Aircraft Co. and Beech Aircraft Corp.—both reporting for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. Both companies are small, smart and fast-growing; both specialize in plywood, twin-engined training planes; both have recently gone into gliders; both have factories in Wichita, Kans. Yet their earnings were as different as down & up:

Down was Cessna which tripled sales to a record $37,589,000 while profits flopped 60% to $738,000. Big reason for...

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