U.S. Companies' Earnings Growth Expected To Slow In Q1

By Agence France-Presse In comparison to record growth of U.S. company earnings in the fourth quarter of 2003, earnings in the first quarter can only slacken as America's economic recovery calms down. "The performance of U.S. groups won't be as upbeat as the last quarter of 2003," said Joe Cooper, an analyst with Thomson Financial economic news service. The slump is expected due to a slight stumble in U.S. economic performance in general, following 8.2% growth in the third quarter of 2003 and 4.1% growth in the last quarter. Similarly, the slight rise of the dollar on currency markets should offset the advantage it has offered American companies bringing earnings in from abroad. However, the image of a U.S. economic slowdown with its accompanying earnings slump in the first three months of this year is all relative, Cooper stressed. In the last quarter of 2003, U.S. company earnings scored a record 28% growth rate in comparison with the first quarter of 2002. In the first quarter of this year they are expected to rise by 20% against the first quarter of 2003, according to Thomson Financial. "It would be the third quarter in a row that we would have a 20% plus growth," said Cooper. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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