Originally created 08/04/98

Report: Slowdown in corporate profits hidden



NEW YORK -- Net income increased 27 percent for major American corporations in the second quarter, but the strong earnings of a cable television giant hid what was actually a slight decline for the rest, The Wall Street Journal reported today.

With a large one-time gain by MediaOne Group removed, corporate net income actually fell 1.5 percent from the same quarter in 1997, the Journal reported, based on its monitoring of 677 publicly traded companies.

Low commodity prices, tough global competition and waning overseas demand caused by the Asian financial crisis have hurt many American companies.

In the first quarter, U.S. corporations saw a 20 percent gain in net income, the Journal found. But almost all of that gain came from Ford Motor's sale of a financing unit. Without the Ford sale, the nationwide gain was just 2.5 percent.

"The slowdown in corporate profits became perfectly clear in the first quarter, and that trend continued in the second quarter," said Nancy Lazar, an economist at International Strategy & Investment Group.

Consumer spending and low interest rates have partially tempered the slowdown, the newspaper said.