Business: The Box Score

Despite all the grandstand opinion on how the economy is doing, the heart of the story is told in the box score: company earnings. Last week, as a flood of third-quarter earnings came out, there were some expected strikeouts. But there were also a surprising number of clean base hits where none were expected.

Steel. In the depressed steel industry, U.S. Steel Chairman Roger Blough came up with a hit. Even though its mills were operating at only 47.8% of capacity, the company earned 85¢ per share in the third quarter, more than enough...

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