Business & Finance

With notable exceptions, US companies are posting their biggest revenue gains in two years for the fourth quarter of 2002, the financial reporting service Bloomberg.com said. Led by jumps at oil giant Exxon Mobil and at utilities, revenues rose an average of 7.4 percent for the more than 300 companies on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index that recently released quarterly reports.

But UAL Corp., the parent of United Airlines, reported a $3.2 billion loss for 2002, its worst annual showing, and slid $1.5 billion deeper into the red in the fourth quarter. If the world's second-largest carrier doesn't improve its situation soon, analysts warned, bankrupt United may have to be liquidated. Only bigger rival American Airlines lost more money in that industry last year.

Ericsson, the world's largest maker of wireless phone equipment, reported its seventh consecutive money-losing quarter and said its return to profitability "at some point in 2003" would depend on lowering costs and "adjusting to prevailing market conditions." The company, based in Stockholm, Sweden, posted just under $1 billion in losses for 2002's fourth quarter, or double what analysts had expected. Since Jan. 1, 2001, Ericsson has lost almost $5 billion.

WorldCom is poised to announce as many as 6,000 more layoffs as part of a plan to emerge from bankruptcy protection this year, The Washington Post reported. The parent of MCI Group, the US's No. 2 long-distance service, cut 17,000 jobs in 2001 amid revelations of massive accounting irregularities.

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