STATE OF BUSINESS: Prediction Confirmed

Everyone knew that first-quarter sales would be off, compared with 1953. But what about earnings? For weeks, investors have been bidding stock prices up to new highs, staunchly believing that profits would hold up largely because of the death of the excess profits tax. Last week the news in the first batch of quarterly earnings and estimates was good (and the Dow-Jones industrials rose another four points, to 313.7).Items:

¶E. I. du Pont de Nemours, a consistent stock-market leader, reported that its first-quarter sales of $403 million were down 8% from last year. Nevertheless, said President Crawford Greenewalt, profits...

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