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Corporate earnings

Google Inc.'s first-quarter profit rose 69 percent to $1 billion, or $3.18 cents per share, compared with net income of $592.3 million, or $1.95 per share, at the same time last year. If not for expenses incurred for employee stock compensation, Google said it would have earned $3.68 per share. Quarterly revenue reached a new high of $3.66 billion, a 63 percent increase from $2.25 billion last year. After subtracting advertising commissions, Google's revenue totaled $2.53 billion.

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Advanced Micro Devices Inc. reported a greater-than-expected loss in the first quarter as the chip maker continued to struggle amid a fierce price competition with larger rival Intel Corp. AMD said Thursday it lost $611 million, or $1.11 per share, in the first three months of the year. That compares with a profit of $185 million, or 38 cents per share in the same quarter a year ago. AMD reported $1.23 billion in sales, a 7 percent decline from the $1.33 billion it rang up last year.

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UnitedHealth Group Inc., the nation's second-largest health insurer, said Thursday its first-quarter profit rose 4 percent to $927 million, or 66 cents per share,, up from $891 million, or 63 cents per share, during the same period last year. Revenue during the quarter that ended March 31 totaled $19.05 billion, up 8 percent from $17.58 billion during the same period last year. The results included 8 cents per share of expenses related to pricing problems with stock options from prior years. Not counting those expenses, UnitedHealth would have earned 74 cents per share.

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Southwest Airlines Co., the largest low-fare carrier, said its first-quarter net income rose 52 percent on benefits from a jet-fuel hedging program. Net income increased to $93 million, or 12 cents a share, from $61 million, or 7 cents, a year earlier. Excluding a gain of $60 million related to hedging, profit fell to $33 million on slowing revenue growth and matched analysts' estimates. Sales rose 8.9 percent to $2.2 billion.

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Quest Diagnostics Inc., the largest U.S. provider of medical tests, said first-quarter profit fell 27 percent after the company lost its biggest contract and storms shuttered some laboratories in February. Net income dropped to $105.9 million, or 54 cents a share, from $144.6 million, or 72 cents, a year earlier. Revenue fell 1.7 percent to $1.53 billion in the quarter. The loss of the UnitedHealth contract slashed 17 cents a share from earnings, while job cuts and winter storms took off 3 cents each and costs associated with an acquisition cut 1 cent, the company said.

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Marriott International Inc. said its first-quarter net income jumped to $182 million, or 44 cents per share, versus $61 million, or 14 cents per share, during the same period in the previous year. Revenue for the quarter ended March 23 grew to $2.9 billion, up 7 percent from $2.71 billion a year ago.

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Nasdaq Stock Market Inc., the nation's second-largest stock exchange, on Thursday reported first-quarter profit rose 1.7 percent as charges related to its failed bid for the London Stock Exchange pared gains from new listings and trading. First-quarter profit rose to $18.3 million, or 14 cents per share, from $18 million, or 16 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Per-share earnings declined due to an increase in outstanding shares in the latest period.

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EBay Inc.'s profit and sales surged 52 percent in the first quarter to $377.2 million, or 27 cents a share. Revenue climbed 27 percent, to $1.77 billion.

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AMR Corp., the parent of American Airlines, posted a first-quarter net profit of $81 million, or 30 cents a share, its fourth consecutive profitable quarter. A year ago, AMR reported a loss of $92 million, or a loss of 49 cents per share. Revenue of $5.4 billion was up 1.6 percent from a year earlier.

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Gannett Co. said first-quarter earnings fell 11 percent to $210.6 million, or 90 cents per share, from $235.3 million, or 99 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue slipped 1 percent to $1.87 billion from $1.88 billion last year.

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Merrill Lynch & Co.'s first-quarter profit soared more than 30 percent, the nation's largest retail brokerage said Thursday, thanks to strong revenue from investments and takeover activity. The brokerage reported net income of $2.11 billion, or $2.26 per share, after preferred dividends. This was up from $432 million, or 44 cents per share, a year ago, when it recorded $1.2 billion in one-time compensation expenses. Excluding those expenses, the company earned $1.61 billion, or $1.65 per share, a year ago. Revenue rose 24 percent to $9.85 billion in the period.
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Volkswagen AG, Europe's biggest car maker, said first-quarter net profit more than doubled as sales showed solid gains worldwide. The company said it earned 740 million euros ($1 billion) in the January-March period, compared with 327 million euros a year earlier. Sales rose 5.1 percent to 26.6 billion euros ($36.1 billion) from 25.3 billion euros. Operating earnings, which analysts use as yardstick to gauge a company's health, rose 81 percent to 1.08 billion euros ($1.5 billion) from 599 million euros.

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CSX Corp. said first-quarter profit fell 2 percent, as the railroad company faced weakened freight demand in a sluggish economy. Quarterly earnings declined to $240 million, or 52 cents per share, from $245 million, or 53 cents per share during the same period last year. Excluding an insurance gain from Hurricane Katrina, CSX earned 50 cents per share in the quarter. Revenue increased 4 percent to $2.42 billion from $2.33 billion.

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