Quarterly results reported Wednesday were ...

Profits rose sharply in the third quarter of the year at the globe's third largest pharma group, as new products and lower costs atoned for stiffer competition from generic drugs. GSK posted profits of £1.69 billion ($2.86bn; €2.43bn) in the three months to September, up 24% year-on-year. The sharp rise bettered expectations and reflected a sales increase of 9% to £5.47bn. But the full year forecast remained unchanged at "single-digit or better" percentage growth. Some analysts described this as disappointing.

The burger chain, which reported its first quarterly loss ever in last year's fourth quarter, saw 2003 Q3 profit increase by 12.5%, bolstered by robust US sales, a sign that a much-anticipated turnaround may be under way. Net income rose to $547.4 million (€464.73m; £323.32m) from $486.7m year-on-year. Revenue rose 11% to $4.5 billion from $4.05bn. "They have clearly re-established momentum in the US," said Lehman Brothers analyst Mitchell Speiser (who doesn't own any McDonald's stock). "The next level of the game is to improve service and brand perception."

The planet's largest food company (which does not report quarterly profit figures) delivered a 5.4% per cent increase in organic sales for the first nine months of the year. But actual sales fell by 2.4% to SFr64.6 billion ($49.17bn; €41.73bn; £29.03bn) due to currency movements. At constant exchange rates sales grew by 6.8%, comprising real internal growth (RIG) of 2.3% plus 3.1% from price increases and 1.4% from acquisitions. RIG of bottled water and beverages rose 5.7% during Europe's hot summer; although chocolate and confectionery sales melted in the heat with RIG falling 4.1%. Geographically, the strongest results came from the Americas, where organic sales were up 5.9% with most of the growth coming from Latin America. The emerging markets of Eastern Europe, which grew by 10%, helped to offset sluggish growth of 1.6% from Western Europe, averaging an organic sales uplift of 2.3% for the whole of Europe. Asia, Oceania and Africa, enjoyed organic sales growth of 4.2% despite the effects of SARS.

Second quarter operating profits fell 34% to ¥33.2 billion ($0.303bn; €0.257bn; £0.179bn), depressing net profits by 25% to ¥32.9bn. While the results reflected an upturn in Sony's core electronics business, this was weakened by a sharp deterioration in the games unit - formerly a major profit driver. The consumer electronics division was boosted by higher sales of mobile phones, digital cameras, Vaio personal computers, DVD recorders and flat screen TVs. Full-year group operating profits are now estimated at ¥100bn rather than ¥130bn; pre-tax profits likewise will be ¥120bn instead of the ¥130bn originally forecast.

Time Warner
A mixed third quarter as some parts of the media mammoth reported growth while others declined. Overall revenues were up 4% to $10.3 billion (€8.75bn; £6.08bn), while operating income increased year-on-year to $1.4bn from $1.31bn. Chairman/ceo Richard H Parsons hailed both cash flow and debt reduction, the group having generated $3.2bn of free cash in the first nine months of the year; it is also on target to reduce net debt to $20bn by the end of 2004. At TW's cable unit, operating income was up due to the growth of high-speed internet access and new services such as video on demand. Profits at the cable TV networks, including Turner, HBO and CNN were up 17% as cable continues to lure viewers from broadcast TV. However, profits in the publishing division slumped 25%, reflecting the effects of the difficult advertising climate on Time Inc, the world's largest magazine publisher. The company is also planning a restructuring of its Time Life direct marketing unit following a sharp fall in sales.

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff