Summary Box: Corporate profits not what they seem

AP News
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Posted: Feb 06, 2012 5:58 PM
Summary Box: Corporate profits not what they seem

POOF GO THE PROFITS: Companies in the S&P 500 earned an estimated 5.8 percent more last quarter than a year ago. Since the start of 2010, profits have grown five times as fast in an average quarter. And nearly all of last quarter's rise came from Apple and AIG. The other 498 companies in the S&P are expected to have earned just 1.1 percent more.

WHY IT MATTERS: Slower growth could threaten the stock rally. It also means less money for companies to hire and invest, hurting the recovery.

THE GOOD NEWS, MAYBE: Investors think profit growth will pick up steam later this year, making up for a lackluster present.