First-Quarter Profits Edge Up

By John S. McClenahen After-tax profits of U.S. corporations rose during the first quarter of this year but at rates far below those recorded in the second, third and fourth calendar quarters of last year. Seasonally adjusted after-tax corporate profits were at an annual rate of $975.2 billion from January through March, just 1.4% higher than the fourth-quarter 2003 rate of $961.9 billion, the U.S. Commerce Department reported on May 27. In contrast, following a first quarter decline, after-tax corporate profits grew at 13.8%, 10.1% and 7.6% in the second, third and fourth quarters, respectively, of 2003.

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