Europe’s Woes Weigh on Profits

Growth in U.S. companies’ earnings slows in 2011.

U.S. corporations ended 2011 with the slowest profit growth in two years as the mending economy that lifted Macy’s Inc. was met by a European slump that vexed companies more tied to global sales, such as Cisco Systems Inc.

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index companies may have earned $24.74 a share in the fourth quarter, according to analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg as of Jan. 6. The projected 6 percent gain is the smallest against a year-earlier quarter since September 2009, just after the U.S. recovery began.

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