STATE OF BUSINESS: Earnings: Best Ever?

As the stream of earnings reports reached flood stage last week, it appeared that 1955's first quarter was the best ever for many U.S. corporations. The combined first-quarter earnings of 484 corporations was 27.2% higher than for the same period a year ago, dividend payments to stockholders were up 6%, and only 17 companies failed to show a profit.

Even in corporations where profits were down because the upswing in business was not yet reflected in earnings, officials were optimistic. Westinghouse Electric's first-quarter earnings fell from $26,286,000 for the first quarter of 1954 to $12,782,000 this year; Pullman Inc. earned only...

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