EARNINGS: Box Score on 1953

In the 1953 annual reports that came out last week, "record-breaking sales" was a welcome cliché. Though high taxes often kept profits from also breaking records, the 1953 net earnings of most firms reporting last week topped 1952 levels by handsome margins.

Automobiles. General Motors took in $10 billion, the highest gross ever attained by any corporation anywhere. After paying history's biggest tax bill—$1.2 billion—G.M. netted $598 million, 7% more than in 1952. Earnings of Studebaker, harassed by tooling troubles and supplier's strikes, skidded from $14.3 million to $2.7 million, though sales edged ahead to a record $594 million.

Steel. U.S. Steel,...

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