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The Top 250 Industrials In The Yearof the Bath
New England's 250 leading industrial companies got down to the nitty gritty this year, and it was not pleasant. A rash of discontinued unprofitable operations, inventory and equipment writedowns, restructuring, divesting and acquisitions led to a whopping 37% decline in profits, despite a 4% advance in sales.
It was a very busy year for the industrials and their accountants.
Simply put, New England's industrials took a bath in 1985. Last year, the top 250 publicly held industrials reported an 11% gain in sales for 1984. This year, they had only a 4% gain. Moreover, the 37% earnings drop this year represents a dramatic turnaround from a 29% earnings gain in 1984.
In a national comparison, New England's industrials performed better in sales than the Fortune 500, but trailed in earnings. Fortune reported the 500 had a 1985 sales gain of 2.7%, and combined earnings fell by 19.1%.
The number of New England companies that lost money this year increased by 39%. In 1985, 61 companies--24%--were in the red. Since 1982, that figure had held pretty steady at 43 or 44 companies.
The Fortune 500 money losers also doubled, from 37 in 1984 to 70 in 1985, the '85 figure representing 14% on the Fortune 500 list.
Finally, the number of companies with sales declines tripled, to 98 in 1985 from 32 in 1984. Sales improved for 152 companies this year, down from 218 in 1984. Profit increases greater than 100% were reported by 16 companies, a drop from 44 companies in 1984.
At the thop of the list in New England is still General Electric Co. of Fairfield, Conn. Its 1985 revenues of $28.3 billion represented a modest 1% rise over last year, and its profits advanced 2%.
Late last year, while preparing our January forecast issue, we polled hundreds of securities analysts about their …