CORPORATIONS: Mean, Tough S.O.B.s

Like apprehensive stragglers from the Japanese army who thought World War II was still going on long after it was over, Wall Street traders are super-sensitive these days about anything resembling the click of a rifle bolt. Take the case of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., the nation's largest chemical producer. Four weeks ago, Du Pont announced that it would report profits for the second quarter slightly lower than those earned in the first three months of the year. Nervous investors took that as an indication that the recovery of the chemical industry had hit a snag,...

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