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CORPORATE EARNINGS <br> LOCAL COMPANIES AND AREA EMPLOYERS

Ingram Micro, the world's biggest distributor of computers and related parts, said third- quarter profits fell 5 percent and that U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began an informal inquiry. Profits declined to $77.3 million, or 49 cents a share, from $81.2 million, or 53 cents, a year earlier. Sales rose to $6.02 billion from $5.21 billion.

Verizon Communications, the largest U.S. telephone company, said third-quarter profit rose less than 1 percent as the company spent more to attract mobile- phone-customers. Wireless sales jumped 23 percent. Profits rose to $1.8 billion, or 64 cents a share, from $1.79 billion, or 64 cents, a year earlier. Sales gained 6.7 percent to $18.2 billion.

Gateway Inc., the third-largest U.S. personal computer seller, said its third-quarter loss narrowed as a new strategy of selling PCs through retail stores bolstered revenue. The loss shrank to $56.5 million, or 16 cents a share, from $136.1 million, or 43 cents, in the same period last year. Sales rose 4 percent to $915.1 million from $883.1 million.

US Airways Group, reorganizing in bankruptcy court for the second time in two years, said third- quarter losses widened to $232 million as jet-fuel costs rose. The loss of $4.22 a share expanded from $90 million, or $1.69 a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 1.6 percent to $1.80 billion from $1.77 billion.

AES Corp., a power producer that owns the Somerset generating station, reported that third-quarter profits rose 84 percent as sales from power plants and utilities increased. The company raised its 2004 profit forecast. Profits rose to $140 million, or 21 cents a share, from $76 million, or 12 cents.

DaimlerChrysler AG, the world's fifth- biggest carmaker, reported a third-quarter profit as earnings growth at the Chrysler division offset a decline at the Mercedes Car Group and a year-earlier write-off wasn't repeated. Profits rose to $1.21 billion, or 94 cents a share.

JetBlue Airways Corp. said its profit plunged 71 percent in the third quarter, cut sharply by industry competition, record-high fuel prices and the effects of hurricanes. The low-fare air carrier said profits fell to $8.4 million, or 8 cents a share, from $29 million, or 26 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had forecast, on average, third-quarter earnings of 10 cents a share.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, whose founder is serving a five-month prison sentence for obstructing justice, said its third-quarter loss widened to $15 million as advertising sales plummeted. The loss was 30 cents a share, compared with a loss of $3.94 million, or 8 cents, a year earlier. Sales fell 24 percent to $38.7 million.

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