Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

World's Largest Firms Felt Profit Pinch in '91

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

World's Largest Firms Felt Profit Pinch in '91

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) _ When the sky falls, the giants get hit first.

The world's biggest industrial companies learned that proverb in 1991, with profits tumbling 28.2 percent, sales gains lagging inflation and the number of moneysers more than doubling from a year earlier, Fortune magazine reports.

"It was a bad year everywhere," the twicenthly business glossy said in its third annual "Global 500" tally published in the July 27 edition, released Wednesday. "The pain was global in 1991."

A worldwide economic downturn, punctuated by losses and layoffs at some of the biggest and bestown businesses at home and abroad, was the underlying reason behind the weakness.

Fortune's numbersunching showed that the wounds were felt most deeply in the United States and Europe, while they were just beginning toward the year's end in Japan.

"Want some good news? The U.S. is coming out of recession even as Japan goes in," the magazine said. Because the United States remains home to the largest number of biggies anywhere with 157, it said, "the U.S. giants should give the whole list _ and indeed the whole world _ quite a lift next year."

Still, Fortune's assertion appeared to predate the latest news of economic weakness and corporate cutbacks in the United States, which has aroused fears that another downturn is looming.

The Fortune list also showed America's lead as home to the biggies dwindled from 164 spots in 1990, while Japan strengthened its No. 2 position with 119 vs. 111 a year earlier. Britain was No. 3 with 43, the same as in 1990.

The rankings further showed the United States also was home to the biggest money bleeders of 1991, led by General Motors Corp., with a loss of $4.5 billion, the biggest of any company in history. International Business Machines Corp. was the world's No. 2 money loser last year, with a $2. …

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