A survey of 293 major companies in 22 business categories shows profits were down an average of 21.9 percent last year. The survey, by Industry Week magazine, found profit margins (net income as a percentage of revenues) slipped from an average of 5.1 percent in 1981 to 4.1 percent last year.
It said five industries - airlines, industrial machinery, metals and mining, steel, and transportation equipment - had net losses last year.
Nine of the 22 industry groups had lower profits than in 1981. Some of these declines were chemicals, down 32.7 percent; diversified miscellaneous manufacturing, down 43.6 percent; forest products, down 55.5 percent; heavy construction, down 7.2 percent; metalworking machinery, down 52.3 percent; petroleum, down 20.5 percent; and railroads, down 15.3 percent.
Industries reporting higher profits than a year ago were aerospace, up 17.8 percent; electric goods and electronics, up 4.7 percent; food and beverages, up 8.3 percent; office equipment, up 11.8 percent; personal goods, up 6.1 percent; and utilities, up 6.8 percent.