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CORPORATE EARNINGS

IBM on Monday reported a nearly 6 percent profit increase in the July-September quarter with another big gain in its services business offsetting the damage done to foreign revenues by the strong dollar. IBM earned $1.36 billion in the quarter, or $1.38 per share, on revenues of $18.61 billion. A year earlier the company earned $1.29 billion, or $1.23 per share, on revenues of $18.06 billion. The company said the revenue from its services business rose 19.7 percent to $4.71 billion from $3.93 billion. Revenues from hardware, software and maintenance were all lower during the quarter. For the first nine months of the year, IBM earned $4 billion, or $4.03 per share, on revenues of $54.79 billion. A year earlier the company earned $3.41 billion, or $3.18 per share, on revenues of $52.81 billion. Microsoft Corp. said Monday its first-quarter profits rose about 8 percent over the same period last year, held down by a write-off for the software company's investment in WebTV. Net income for the quarter ended Sept. 30 was $663 million or 50 cents a share, compared with $614 million or 47 cents a share a year ago. Excluding the one-time write-off of $296 million to acquire technology related to the WebTV investment, net income would have been $959 million, or 72 cents a share, an increase of about 55 percent. Quarterly revenues grew to a record $3.13 billion, up 36 percent from $2.3 billion last year.

Nabisco Holdings Corp., which has plants in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, said Monday its third quarter net income rose 31 percent from results depressed by a onetime restructuring charge a year ago. Sales slipped but Nabisco said earnings were up in snack food categories and productivity improvements in its cookie and crackers business. Quarterly income rose to $92 million, or 34 cents a share, in the three months ended Sept. 30 versus $70 million, or 26 cents a share, a year earlier. The 1996 figure reflected a $17 million charge for restructuring expenses. Excluding that charge, the rise in net income would have been 15 percent, the company said. Worldwide net sales declined 2 percent to $2.20 billion from $2.24 billion. The company acknowledged weakness in some domestic products -- including SnackWell's products and breakfast snacks -- and in South America. Nabisco said productivity increases and cost controls contributed to the improved bottom line, and that several core products saw sales gains, including Oreo, Chips Ahoy!, Ritz, Triscuit and Air Crisps.

Northwest Airlines today said strong travel demand in the United States and stable pricing helped boost its third-quarter profits by more than 14 percent. Northwest earned $290.3 million, or $2.75 a share, up from $253.9 million, or $3.15 a share, in the same period a year ago. Last year's per-share figure included a 73-cent gain from preferred stock transactions. Revenues were $2.8 billion, up 2.4 percent from $2.7 billion a year ago. The results easily beat analysts' expectations of $2.15 a share.

Hasbro Inc., the nation's second-largest toy company, announced Monday that its third-quarter earnings rose 10 percent, fueled by strong U.S. sales. Hasbro reported earnings of $77.4 million, or 60 cents a share, compared with $70.47 million, or 54 cents a share, a year ago. Sales reached $915.5 million, up eight percent from $845.1 million last year. In addition to strong U.S. sales, Hasbro Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan Hassenfeld said the company's growing interactive CD-ROM business and toys based on "Star Wars," "Jurassic Park" and "Batman" spurred the income growth. Also contributing to growth was Hasbro's acquisition in May of the assets of OddzOn Products and Cap Toys, which brought along with it popular toys including Koosh balls and Vortex sport toys.

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