Corporate profits in the United States had a deceptively hefty rise to $122 billion in 1979, according to a Citibank report. The increase over 1978 for the 3,200 companies surveyed by the bank was 21 percent. For 1,200 manufacturing companies on the list, the increase was 27 percent.
But when even larger profits for the oil companies -- mostly due to the doubling of OPEC crude prices -- are excluded, the earnings improvement for the rest of the companies was no better than the year's inflation rate: 12 percent for all but the 86 oil companies and 13 percent for the manufacturing companies. The inflation rate was just over 13 percent.