EARNINGS: Over the Fence

During the current shakeout of the U.S. economy, worried businessmen have anxiously waited for first-quarter earnings; they would be the Scoreboard that would show how well—or how badly—business was batting. Last week, as the first big batch of earnings came out, the scoreboard looked almost as cheerful as a home run in a tight game with the bases loaded. So far, at least, business was batting well: the slump had not been bad.

In fact, for a good half of the 175-odd companies which had reported by early this week, there had been...

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