Today in the Fortune 500: U.S. manufacturing increases, Boeing faces scrutiny for moving Dreamliner production and GE profit jumps

April 21, 2011, 7:29 PM UTC
Caterpillar D10N bulldozer, in Israel
Image via Wikipedia

The Fortune 500 comes out just once a year, but the companies on it make headlines every day. Here then are today’s highlights of news and happenings coming from the biggest names in business.

By Shelley DuBois, reporter

WE’RE MAKING STUFF in the United States. The first quarter saw an increase in profits for many U.S. manufacturers, causing stocks to rise for companies including United Technologies (UTX), Caterpillar (CAT) and Boeing (BA). That’s good news for the economy–an analyst at Deutsche Bank says, “When the manufacturing sector does well, the rest of the economy generally follows.” [Wall Street Journal]

BUT THERE COULD BE A LABOR PROBLEM at Boeing. The National Labor Relations Board claims the company is moving the second production line for its 787 Dreamliner to South Carolina, a non-union state, to dodge worker strikes in its unionized facilities in Washington. Boeing says the complaint comes at a particularly bad time–the company has already hired 1,000 workers at a its nearly-completed factory in North Charleston, South Carolina. [New York Times]

GE PROFIT SURGES by 77% for the first quarter. GE (GE) CEO Jeff Immelt says that it’s because the company successfully restructured its financing arm GE Capital. Immelt also mentioned that the company is on track to grow revenue in its industrial businesses by 5% in 2011. [Wall Street Journal]

SO DOES APPLE’S, thanks mostly to the iPhone. Apple (AAPL) said that it sold 18.6 million iPhones during the fist quarter of 2011, more than double the number from the year before. That helped spur the 95% increase in profit for the quarter, up to $5.99 billion from 2010. [Wall Street Journal]

THOSE IPHONES ARE, HOWEVER, TRACKING YOU Two programmers at a tech conference in California presented research that Apple’s iPhones and iPads have a tracking file, hidden from users, that sometimes stores location data. While it isn’t illegal, privacy experts suggest that the company should allow users to opt out. [New York Times]

SUE EVERYONE About a year after the Deepwater Horizon rig caught fire, BP (BP) is suing two of its contractors–Transocean (RIG), owner of the rig, and Cameron International, the company that made the blowout preventer that failed to shut down the well. BP says that both companies exhibited negligence that led to the death of the 11 workers killed on the rig. [Wall Street Journal]