Business: First-Quarter Profits

Stockholders and Wall Streeters found last week's flood of first-quarter reports not all beer and skittles. True, combined profits of 345 top-flight companies (as tabulated by New York's National City Bank) were $377,372,000, up 17½% above 1940's first quarter, best since 1929. But this bare statistic hid many ands, ifs, buts.

Biggest hidden item: taxes. As intended, they siphoned off profits almost as fast as business boosted them. Not all companies report tax reserves by quarters, but the first 90 to volunteer this breakdown earmarked $151,912,000, four times the $41,392,000 tagged in 1940's...

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