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CORPORATE EARNINGS

KeyCorp, which owns Key Bank, said third-quarter earnings rose 14 percent as the bank increased fee income and cut costs. The 14th-largest U.S bank said third-quarter net income rose to $236 million, or $1.08 a share, from $207 million, or 90 cents, last year. In the third quarter of last year, the bank incurred a one-time charge of $17 million to recapitalize the Savings Association Insurance Fund. Net interest income for the third quarter increased 2.7 percent to $715 million as loans increased 11 percent to $53.7 billion. The bank increased its provision for loan losses by 108 percent to $102 million. Net loan charge-offs increased 73 percent to $85 million.

Sears, Roebuck & Co. reported its third-quarter profits rose 26 percent, but said increasing consumer credit delinquencies are likely to impact its earnings during the holiday shopping period. The nation's No. 2 retailer and one of the largest U.S. credit card issuers said net income for the three months ended Sept. 30 rose to $353 million, or 89 cents a share, from $279 million, or 68 cents a share, the comparable period a year ago. Revenues rose 8.4 percent to $9.83 billion from $9.1 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year, an industry measure of performance, rose 2.2 percent, while credit card revenues rose 19 percent, in part on increased late fees.

Coca-Cola Co. reported a 5 percent increase in earnings for the third quarter, crediting strong international sales growth. The nation's biggest soft drink company earned $1.01 billion, or 41 cents per share, for the July-September period, compared with $967 million, or 39 cents per share, in the same quarter of 1996. Net operating revenues were $4.95 billion, up 6 percent from $4.69 billion in the third quarter last year.

Polaroid Corp. reported a 25 percent decline in third-quarter earnings, with foreign sales slipping partly because of the dollar's strength. Earnings were $25.7 million, or 55 cents a share, compared with $34.2 million, or 74 cents a share, a year earlier. Total sales were $516 million, compared with $569 million a year ago. Excluding one-time gains from licensing income and real estate sales, earnings for the third quarter of last year were $23.5 million, or 51 cents a share. Compared with that, this year's third-quarter profits rose 9 percent.

Bausch & Lomb Inc. said third-quarter profits jumped 28 percent, with robust sales of contact lenses more than offsetting a dip in demand for sunglasses. The company earned $18.5 million, or 33 cents a share, up from $14.4 million, or 25 cents a share, a year ago. Sales fell 1.9 percent to $468.3 million from $477.2 million.

Continental Airlines said it earned $110 million or $1.77 per share in the third-quarter, compared with $18 million, or 25 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenues rose to $1.89 billion from $1.67 billion.

Merck & Co. said its third-quarter earnings rose 19 percent to $1.2 billion, or 99 cents a share, up from $1 billion, or 83 cents a share, during the same period in 1996. Sales for the quarter were $5.93 billion, up 19 percent from $4.98 billion a year ago.

Compaq Computer Corp. reported a 42 percent jump in third-quarter profits, citing a new low-price strategy that has boosted computer sales. The No. 1 seller of personal computers reported net income of $517 million, or 66 cents per share, including the $44 million cost of its acquisition of Tandem Computers Inc. That compared with earnings of $365 million, or 48 cents per share, for the same quarter a year ago. Sales grew by nearly one-third to $6.47 billion from $4.95 billion.

Digital Equipment Corp. reported a $25 million profit for the latest quarter, reversing last year's loss with help from stronger sales of computers based on Intel Corp. chips. Net earnings for the quarter, the first in Digital's fiscal year, worked out to 11 cents a share. Digital's loss in the July-September quarter of 1996 was $66 million, or 48 cents a share. Total operating revenue for the quarter was $2.96 billion, compared with $2.91 billion.

Sun Microsystems Inc. said its first-quarter profit fell 12 percent as it took charges in connection with acquisitions and had less revenue than expected. Sun earned $108.4 million, or 27 cents a share, for the three months ended Sept. 28, compared with $123.4 million, or 32 cents a share, for the same period of last year. Revenue rose 13 percent to $2.01 billion from $1.86 billion.

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