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Not such a sure thing after all

Would you believe that one cause of our recent economic downturn is because not enough people are dying?

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stewart Enterprises Inc., America’s No. 3 funeral home and cemetery operator, cut its earnings estimate for the year, partly because, to put it bluntly, not enough people are dying.

For an industry that profits from death, the first quarter is not shaping up well. Stewart said Monday there were fewer deaths than expected in the quarter just ended, which is historically a season of harsh weather and flu epidemics.

In addition, more people were choosing cremations over higher-priced burials and also it is becoming more difficult to sell funeral packages in advance to Americans who are focused on near-term problems like the economy and possible war with Iraq, the company said.

The announcement that Stewart was cutting its 2003 earnings estimate sent its stock plummeting.

Via Larry Simon.

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