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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