Tag Archives: Business

Deloitte “CFO Signals” Report Q2 2018 – Notable Aspects

Recently Deloitte released their “CFO Signals” “High-Level Summary” report for the 2nd Quarter of 2018.

As seen in page 2 of the report, there were 172 survey respondents.  As stated:

“Each quarter (since 2Q10), CFO Signals has tracked the thinking and actions of CFOs
representing many of North America’s largest and most influential companies.

All respondents are CFOs from the US, Canada, and Mexico, and the vast majority are from
companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue. For a summary of this quarter’s
response demographics, please see the sidebars and charts on this page. For other information
about participation and methodology, please contact nacfosurvey@deloitte.com.”

from page 3:

Perceptions

How do you regard the current/future status of the North American, European, and Chinese economies? Perceptions of North America improved, with 94% of CFOs rating current conditions as good (up from 90% last quarter and a new survey high), and 52% expecting better conditions in a year (down from 59%). Perceptions of Europe declined to 47% and 36%, respectively (both metrics remain near their survey highs), and China rose to 55% (a new high) and 31%. Page 6.

What is your perception of the capital markets? Seventy-three percent of CFOs say debt financing is attractive (down from 77%). Attractiveness of equity financing decreased for public company CFOs (from 43% to 36%) and increased for private company CFOs (from 35% to 45%). Sixty-three percent of CFOs now say US equities are overvalued—the lowest level in two years. Page 7.

Sentiment

Overall, what risks worry you the most? CFOs express strong external concerns about US politics (especially around trade policy), while concerns about economic risks, which had subsided over the last few quarters, began to rise. They again cite pressure to execute on their growth plans, voicing growing internal concerns about driving initiatives and finding talent. Page 8.

Compared to three months ago, how do you feel about the financial prospects for your company? The net optimism index fell from last quarter’s survey-high +54 to +39 (still quite strong). Forty-eight percent of CFOs express rising optimism (down from 59%), and 9% express declining optimism. Page 9.

Expectations

What is your company’s business focus for the next year? CFOs indicate a survey-high bias toward revenue growth over cost reduction (67% vs. 17%) and a somewhat lower bias toward investing cash over returning it (56% vs. 18%).

The bias toward new offerings over current ones grew this quarter (40% vs. 35%), and the bias toward current geographies over new ones increased slightly (59% vs. 16%). Page 10.

Compared to the past 12 months, how do you expect your key operating metrics to change over the next 12 months? Revenue growth expectations rose from 5.9% to 6.3% (the highest level in nearly four years). Earnings growth rose from 9.8% to 10.3% (a three-year high). Capital investment slid from 11.0% to 10.4% (still among its six-year highs). Domestic hiring rose from 3.1% to 3.2% (a new high). Technology and Retail/Wholesale showed substantial improvement. Page 11.

from page 9:

Sentiment

Optimism regarding own-companies’ prospects

After hitting a new high last quarter, net optimism declined this quarter, but remains relatively strong—despite substantial weakness in Mexico and Healthcare/Pharma.

Net optimism hit a survey-high +50 in 1Q17, then another new high last quarter at +54. This quarter’s net optimism declined to +39— significantly down, but still quite strong by historical standards. Forty-eight percent of CFOs expressed rising optimism (down from 59%), and 9% cited declining optimism (up from 6%).

Net optimism for the US declined from +55 last quarter to +42 this quarter. Canada declined from +47 to +33, while optimism in Mexico fell sharply from +38 to zero.

Sentiment was particularly strong in Services and Technology—both of which came in above +50. Retail/Wholesale and Manufacturing both declined sharply from last quarter’s highs (both were above +60). Healthcare/Pharma declined sharply to -33.

Please see the full report for charts specific to individual industries and countries.

from page 11:

Expectations

Growth in key metrics, year-over-year

After hitting multi-year highs last quarter, key growth metrics continued to climb this quarter. Capital spending remained strong in the US, but weakened in Canada and Mexico. Technology, and Retail/Wholesale showed substantial improvement.

Revenue growth rose from 5.9% to 6.3%, its highest level in nearly four years. The US rose to a two-year high. Canada rose above its two-year average, and Mexico rose to a three-year high. Technology leads; Services and Manufacturing trail.

Earnings growth rose from 9.8% to 10.3%, its highest level in three years. The US declined slightly, but remains near its three-year high. Canada rose to its highest level in nearly four years, while Mexico rose to its five-year high. Technology* leads; Healthcare/Pharma trails.

Capital investment declined from 11.0% to 10.4%, but remains at one of the highest levels in the last six years. The US remained near its five-year high. Canada declined and is below its two-year average; Mexico declined sharply to near its two-year average. Manufacturing and Retail/Wholesale are again highest; Healthcare/Pharma and Technology are lowest.

Domestic personnel growth rose from 3.1% to 3.2%, a new survey high. The US remained at last quarter’s high; Canada rose to its second-highest level in five years; Mexico rose to its second highest level in three years. Technology and Retail/Wholesale lead; T/M/E* trails.

Please see the full report for charts specific to individual industries and countries.

* Please note that, due to a very small sample size,

T/M/E was not used as an industry comparison point.

Among the various charts and graphics in the report are graphics depicting trends in “Own Company Optimism” on page 9 and “Economic Optimism” found on page 6.

_____

I post various business and economic surveys because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2767.32 as this post is written

June 2018 Duke/CFO Global Business Outlook Survey – Notable Excerpts

On June 13, 2018 the June 2018 Duke/CFO Global Business Outlook was released.  It contains a variety of statistics regarding how CFOs view business and economic conditions.

In this CFO survey press release, I found the following to be the most notable excerpts – although I don’t necessarily agree with them:

The Optimism Index in the U.S. remained at an all-time high of 71 on a 100-point scale this quarter. Optimism fell in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The survey’s CFO Optimism Index is an accurate predictor of future hiring and overall GDP growth.

“This increased U.S. optimism appears to have increased expectations for M&A activity,” Graham said. “More than 70 percent of CFOs expect more mergers and acquisitions to occur over the next year.”

also:

The proportion of firms indicating they are having difficulty hiring and retaining qualified employees remains near a two-decade high, with 41 percent of CFOs calling it a top concern. The typical U.S. firm says it plans to increase employment by a median 3 percent in 2018 and expects wages to increase 4 percent on average.

“The tight labor market continues to put upward pressure on wages,” said Chris Schmidt, senior editor at CFO Research. “Wage inflation is now a top five concern of U.S. CFOs.”

Wage growth should be strongest in the tech, transportation, and service/consulting industries. U.S. companies expect the prices of their products to increase by more than 3 percent over the next year.

The CFO survey contains two Optimism Index charts, with the bottom chart showing U.S. Optimism (with regard to the economy) at 71, as seen below:

Duke CFO Optimism chart

It should be interesting to see how well the CFOs predict business and economic conditions going forward.   I discussed past various aspects of this, and the importance of these predictions, in the July 9, 2010 post titled “The Business Environment”.

(past posts on CEO and CFO surveys can be found under the “CFO and CEO Confidence” tag)

_____

I post various economic forecasts because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these forecast surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2775.63 as this post is written

Corporate Profits As A Percentage Of GDP

In the last post (“1st Quarter 2018 Corporate Profits“) I displayed, for reference purposes, a long-term chart depicting Corporate Profits After Tax.

There are many ways to view this measure, both on an absolute as well as relative basis.

One relative measure is viewing Corporate Profits as a Percentage of GDP.  I feel that this metric is important for a variety of reasons.  As well, the measure is important to a variety of parties, including investors, businesses, and government policy makers.

As one can see from the long-term chart below (updated through the first quarter), (After Tax) Corporate Profits as a Percentage of GDP is at levels that can be seen as historically (very) high.  While there are many reasons as to why this is so, from a going-forward standpoint I think it is important to recognize both that such a notable condition exists, as well as contemplate and/or plan for such factors and conditions that would come about if (and in my opinion “when”) a more historically “normal” ratio of Corporate Profits as a Percentage of GDP occurs.  This topic can be very complex in nature, and depends upon myriad factors.  In my opinion it deserves far greater recognition.

(click on chart to enlarge image)

Corporate Profits As A Percent Of GDP

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed May 30, 2018

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2728.14 as this post is written

1st Quarter 2018 Corporate Profits

Today’s (May 30, 2018) GDP release (Q1, 2nd Estimate)(pdf) was accompanied by the BLS Corporate Profits report for the 1st Quarter.

Of course, there are many ways to adjust and depict overall Corporate Profits.  For reference purposes, here is a chart from the St. Louis Federal Reserve (FRED) showing the Corporate Profits After Tax (without IVA and CCAdj) (last updated May 30, 2018, with a value of $1811.844 Billion SAAR):

Corporate Profits After Tax

Here is the Corporate Profits After Tax measure shown on a Percentage Change from a Year Ago perspective:

Corporate Profits After Tax Percent Change From Year Ago

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Corporate Profits After Tax [CP]; U.S. Department of Commerce: Bureau of Economic Analysis; accessed May 30, 2018; https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/CP

_________

I post various indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2727.09 as this post is written

CEO Confidence Surveys 1Q 2018 – Notable Excerpts

On April 5, 2018, The Conference Board released the 1st Quarter Measure Of CEO Confidence.   The overall measure of CEO Confidence was at 65, up from 63 in the fourth quarter. [note:  a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses]

Notable excerpts from this April 5 Press Release include:

CEOs’ assessment of current economic conditions was slightly more positive, with 75 percent saying conditions are better compared to six months ago, up from 71 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. CEOs were also moderately more optimistic in their appraisal of current conditions in their own industries. Now, 51 percent say conditions in their own industries have improved, up from 49 percent last quarter.

Looking ahead, CEOs’ expectations regarding the short-term outlook was significantly better. Now, 63 percent expect economic conditions to improve over the next six months, compared to just 47 percent last quarter. CEOs, however, were only slightly more upbeat about short-term prospects in their own industries over the next six months, with 43 percent anticipating conditions will improve, versus 41 percent last quarter.

The Business Roundtable last month also released its CEO Economic Outlook Survey for the 1st Quarter of 2018.   Notable excerpts from the March 13, 2018 release, titled “Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index Reaches Highest Level in Survey’s 15-Year History“:

The Business Roundtable Q1 2018 CEO Economic Outlook Index – a composite of CEO projections for sales and plans for capital spending and hiring over the next six months – increased to 118.6 in the first quarter of 2018, the highest level since the survey began in the fourth quarter of 2002. The survey was conducted between February 7 and February 26, 2018. Results reflect renewed CEO optimism and confidence following passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but do not capture effects of President Trump’s March 8, 2018, announcement of steel and aluminum tariffs.

The Q1 2018 Index exceeded its previous high point of 113 in 2011. The Index has significantly surpassed its historical average level of 81.2.

All three components of the Index reached record highs, signaling a positive direction for the U.S economy.

  • CEO plans for hiring rose to 98.5, up 22.8 from the previous quarter.
  • Plans for capital investment rose to 115.4, up 22.7 from Q4 2017.
  • Expectations for sales reached 141.9, an increase of 19.9 from the last quarter.

In their second estimate for GDP in 2018, CEOs project 2.8 percent GDP growth for the year, compared to the previous quarter’s estimate of 2.5 percent for the year.

Additional details can be seen in the sources mentioned above.

_____

I post various economic forecasts because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these forecast surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2662.84 as this post is written

Deloitte “CFO Signals” Report Q1 2018 – Notable Aspects

Recently Deloitte released their “CFO Signals” “High-Level Summary” report for the 1st Quarter of 2018.

As seen in page 2 of the report, there were 155 survey respondents.  As stated:

“Each quarter (since 2Q10), CFO Signals has tracked the thinking and actions of CFOs representing many of North America’s largest and most influential companies.

All respondents are CFOs from the US, Canada, and Mexico, and the vast majority are from companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue. For a summary of this quarter’s response demographics, please see the sidebars and charts on this page. For other information about participation and methodology, please contact nacfosurvey@deloitte.com.”

Here are some of the excerpts that I found notable:

from page 3:

Perceptions

How do you regard the current/future status of the North American, European, and Chinese economies? Perceptions of North America improved, with 90% of CFOs rating current conditions as good (up sharply from 74% last quarter and a new survey high), and 59% expecting better conditions in a year (up from 56%). Perceptions of Europe rose to 55% and 51%, respectively (both new highs), and China rose sharply to 50% (new high) and 37%. Page 6.

What is your perception of the capital markets? Seventy-seven percent of CFOs say debt financing is attractive (down from 85%). Attractiveness of equity financing decreased for public company CFOs (from 46% to 43%) and also for private company CFOs (from 47% to 35%). Seventy-six percent of CFOs now say US equities are overvalued—down from last quarter’s survey-high 84%. Page 7.

Sentiment

Overall, what risks worry you the most? Anticipating higher post-tax-reform investment, CFOs voice very strong internal concerns about securing the talent they need. They again cite external worries about politics and policy (especially trade policy) and also new concerns about rising government debt. Page 8.

Compared to three months ago, how do you feel about the financial prospects for your company? The net optimism index rose from last quarter’s +47 to +54 this quarter—a new survey high. Nearly 60% of CFOs express rising optimism (up from 52%), and just 6% express declining optimism. Page 9.

Expectations

What is your company’s business focus for the next year? CFOs indicate a strong bias toward revenue growth over cost reduction (64% vs. 18%) and investing cash over returning it (57% vs. 14%). The bias toward current offerings over new ones held steady this quarter (40% vs. 37%), and the bias toward current geographies over new ones declined slightly (61% vs. 20%). Page 10.

Compared to the past 12 months, how do you expect your key operating metrics to change over the next 12 months? Revenue growth expectations rose from 4.7% to 5.9% (a two-year high). Earnings growth rose from 8.4% to 9.8% (the highest level in nearly three years). Capital investment rose sharply from 6.5% to 11.0% (a five-year high). Domestic hiring rose from 2.0% to 3.1% (a new high). Manufacturing and Retail/Wholesale led for most metrics. Page 11.

Special topic: Companies’ response to US tax law changes

What will be the impact of new US corporate tax laws on your company? Many CFOs expect tax reform to raise their domestic investment, hiring, and wages; many also expect accelerated earnings repatriation and challenges for their tax function. Page 12.

What will you do with your repatriated cash? Investment (in both core and new businesses and also in R&D) is far and away CFOs’ top expected use for repatriated cash. Many expect some use for hiring and pay, but more extensive use appears focused on debt repayment, buybacks, and dividends. Page 13.

from page 9:

Sentiment

Optimism regarding own-companies’ prospects

After bouncing back last quarter to the high levels we saw early in 2017, net optimism rose again to another survey high this quarter—on strength in all three geographies and most industries.

Net optimism hit a survey-high +50% in 1Q17. Then, after declining in the second and third quarters, it bounced back in the fourth to a very strong +47. This quarter’s net optimism continued the positive trend, reaching another survey high at +54. Nearly 60% of CFOs expressed rising optimism (up from 52%), and just 6% cited declining optimism (near the historic low).

Net optimism for the US rose from last quarter’s already-high +50 to +55 this quarter. Canada rose slightly from +46 to +47, while optimism in Mexico rose sharply from zero to +38.

Sentiment was particularly strong in Services, Manufacturing, Technology, and Retail/ Wholesale—all of which came in above +62. Financial Services and T/M/E* were lowest at +25.

Please see the appendix for charts specific to individual industries and countries.

* Please note the very small sample size for T/M/E.

from page 11:

Expectations

Growth in key metrics, year-over-year

All key metrics rose to multi-year highs— largely on skyrocketing optimism in the US, but also on strength in Canada and Mexico. The Manufacturing and Retail/Wholesale sectors powered much of the improvement.

Revenue growth rose from 4.7% to 5.9% and sits at its two-year high. The US rose to its twoyear high. Canada rose substantially, but is still below its two-year average; Mexico rose above its two-year average. Retail/Wholesale and Technology lead; T/M/E* trails.

Earnings growth rose from 8.4% to 9.8% and sits at its highest level in nearly three years. The US rose sharply to its three-year high. Canada rose, but remains below its two-year average; Mexico rose above its two-year average. Manufacturing and Retail/Wholesale lead; T/M/E* and Healthcare/Pharma trail.

Capital investment rose sharply from 6.5% to 11% (a five-year high). The US rose to its five- year high. Canada rose sharply, but remains below its two-year average. Mexico rose sharply to its fourth-highest-ever level. Manufacturing and Retail/Wholesale are highest; T/M/E* and Technology are lowest.

Domestic personnel growth rose from 2.0% to 3.1%, a new survey high. The US and Canada both rose sharply—the US to its new survey high, and Canada to its second-highest level in nearly five years. Mexico rose, but sits below its two-year average. Services and Technology lead; T/M/E* and Energy/Resources trail.

Please see the appendix for charts specific to individual industries and countries.

* Please note the very small sample size for T/M/E.

Among the various charts and graphics in the report are graphics depicting trends in “Own Company Optimism” on page 9 and “Economic Optimism” found on page 6.

_____

I post various business and economic surveys because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2605.00 as this post is written

Corporate Profits As A Percentage Of GDP

In the last post (“4th Quarter 2017 Corporate Profits“) I displayed, for reference purposes, a long-term chart depicting Corporate Profits After Tax.

There are many ways to view this measure, both on an absolute as well as relative basis.

One relative measure is viewing Corporate Profits as a Percentage of GDP.  I feel that this metric is important for a variety of reasons.  As well, the measure is important to a variety of parties, including investors, businesses, and government policy makers.

As one can see from the long-term chart below (updated through the fourth quarter), (After Tax) Corporate Profits as a Percentage of GDP is at levels that can be seen as historically (very) high.  While there are many reasons as to why this is so, from a going-forward standpoint I think it is important to recognize both that such a notable condition exists, as well as contemplate and/or plan for such factors and conditions that would come about if (and in my opinion “when”) a more historically “normal” ratio of Corporate Profits as a Percentage of GDP occurs.  This topic can be very complex in nature, and depends upon myriad factors.  In my opinion it deserves far greater recognition.

(click on chart to enlarge image)

Corporate Profits As A Percentage Of GDP

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed March 28, 2018

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2618.66 as this post is written

4th Quarter 2017 Corporate Profits

Today’s (March 28, 2018) GDP release (Q4, 3rd Estimate)(pdf) was accompanied by the BLS Corporate Profits report for the 4th Quarter.

Of course, there are many ways to adjust and depict overall Corporate Profits.  For reference purposes, here is a chart from the St. Louis Federal Reserve (FRED) showing the Corporate Profits After Tax (without IVA and CCAdj) (last updated March 28, 2018, with a value of $1680.25 Billion SAAR):

CP

Here is the Corporate Profits After Tax measure shown on a Percentage Change from a Year Ago perspective:

Corporate Profits After Tax Percent Change From Year Ago

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Corporate Profits After Tax [CP]; U.S. Department of Commerce: Bureau of Economic Analysis; accessed March 28, 2018; https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/CP

_________

I post various indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2615.85 as this post is written

March 2018 Duke/CFO Global Business Outlook Survey – Notable Excerpts

On March 7, 2018 the March 2018 Duke/CFO Global Business Outlook was released.  It contains a variety of statistics regarding how CFOs view business and economic conditions.

In this CFO survey, I found the following to be the most notable excerpts – although I don’t necessarily agree with them:

Forty-four percent of U.S. companies plan to increase wages more than they would have without tax reform. Thirty-eight percent plan to increase employment and 36 percent will increase domestic investment. Thirty-one percent will increase cash holdings. Among companies with defined benefit pensions, 28 percent will increase pension contributions.

also:

Due to tax reform, the effective (or average) tax rate for U.S. companies is expected to fall by about 5 percent, from 24 percent to 18.8 percent.

also:

The Optimism Index in the U.S. increased to 71 on a 100-point scale this quarter, an all-time high.

“The extremely high level of business optimism is tied to the recently passed corporate tax reform,” Graham said. “Our analysis of past results shows the CFO Optimism Index is an accurate predictor of future economic growth and hiring, therefore 2018 looks to be a very promising year.”

Optimism is up around the world, anticipating strong global economic conditions.

also:

The proportion of firms indicating they are having difficulty hiring and retaining qualified employees remains at a two-decade high, with 45 percent of CFOs calling it a top concern, up from 43 percent last quarter. The median U.S. firm says it plans to increase employment by a median 3 percent in 2018.

“The tight labor market continues to put upward pressure on wages,” said Chris Schmidt, senior editor at CFO Research. “Wage inflation is now listed near the top half dozen concerns of U.S. CFOs.”

The CFO survey contains two Optimism Index charts, with the bottom chart showing U.S. Optimism (with regard to the economy) at 71, as seen below:

Duke CFO Survey Optimism chart

It should be interesting to see how well the CFOs predict business and economic conditions going forward.   I discussed past various aspects of this, and the importance of these predictions, in the July 9, 2010 post titled “The Business Environment”.

(past posts on CEO and CFO surveys can be found under the “CFO and CEO Confidence” tag)

_____

I post various economic forecasts because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these forecast surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2735.50 as this post is written

Deloitte “CFO Signals” Report Q4 2017 – Notable Aspects

Recently Deloitte released their “CFO Signals” “High-Level Summary” report for the 4th Quarter of 2017.

As seen in page 2 of the report, there were 147 survey respondents.  As stated:  “Each quarter (since 2Q10), CFO Signals has tracked the thinking and actions of CFOs representing many of North America’s largest and most influential companies.

All respondents are CFOs from the US, Canada, and Mexico, and the vast majority are from companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue. For a summary of this quarter’s response demographics, please see the sidebars and charts on this page. For other information about participation and methodology, please contact nacfosurvey@deloitte.com.”

Here are some of the excerpts that I found notable:

from page 3:

Perceptions

How do you regard the current/future status of the North American, Chinese, and European economies? Perceptions of North America improved markedly with 74% of CFOs rating current conditions as good (up from 64% last quarter), and 56% expecting better conditions in a year (up from 45%). Perceptions of Europe rose to 35% and 33%, respectively, and China rose sharply to 49% and 41% (their highest levels in nearly five years). Page 6.

What is your perception of the capital markets? Eighty-five percent of CFOs say debt financing is attractive (up slightly from 83%). Attractiveness of equity financing decreased for public company CFOs (from 48% to 46%) and rose for private company CFOs (from 35% to 47%). Eighty-four percent of CFOs now say US equities are overvalued—another new survey high. Page 7.

Sentiment

Overall, what risks worry you the most? CFOs say constraints to their companies’ performance are mostly external, voicing strong concerns about political turmoil, policy uncertainty, and geopolitics. Talent challenges, strategy execution, and achieving growth are the top internal worries. Page 8.

Compared to three months ago, how do you feel about the financial prospects for your company? The net optimism index rose sharply from last quarter’s +29 to +47 this quarter. About 52% of CFOs express rising optimism (up from 45%), and 5% express declining optimism (down from 16%). Page 9.

Expectations

What is your company’s business focus for the next year? CFOs indicate a strong bias toward revenue growth over cost reduction (61% vs. 18%) and investing cash over returning it (56% vs. 18%). They shifted back to a bias toward existing offerings over new ones (45% vs. 35%), and indicated a bias toward current geographies over new ones (65% vs. 11%). Page 10.

Compared to the past 12 months, how do you expect your key operating metrics to change over the next 12 months? Revenue growth expectations declined from last quarter’s 5.7% to 4.7% (still above the two-year average). Earnings growth rose from 7.9% to 8.4% (well above the two-year average). Capital spending growth slid from 7.3% to 6.5%; domestic hiring growth fell from 2.6% to 2.0%. Canadian expectations trailed for almost all metrics. Page 11.

from page 9:

Sentiment

Optimism regarding own-companies’ prospects

Several industries rose sharply, but Healthcare/Pharma declined sharply.

After declining to +29 last quarter, net optimism rose sharply to +47 this quarter. About 52% of CFOs expressed rising optimism (up from 45%), and just 5% cited declining optimism (down from 16%).

Net optimism for the US rose sharply from last quarter’s +28 to +50 this quarter. Canada rose from +31 to +46, while optimism in Mexico declined sharply from +39 to zero.

Sentiment rose sharply in Manufacturing, Technology, Energy/Resources, and

Services—all of which came in above +45. Retail/Wholesale rose, but trailed the average at +29, and Healthcare/Pharma fell sharply to just +8.

Please see the appendix for charts specific to individual industries and countries.

from page 11:

Expectations

Growth in key metrics, year-over-year

Earnings growth rose on strength in the US.
Revenue, capital spending, and domestic
hiring growth all declined, largely on
pessimism in Canada.

Revenue growth declined from 5.7% to 4.7%,
but remains above its two-year average of 4.4%.
The US declined, but remains near its two-year
highs. Canada declined to well below its two-year
average; Mexico declined, but is still relatively
strong. Healthcare/Pharma and Technology lead;
T/M/E and Services trail.

Earnings growth rose to 8.4% from 7.9%. The
US leads and is well above its two-year average.
Canada declined to well below its two-year
average; Mexico declined, but is still above its
average. Retail/Wholesale, Manufacturing, and
Technology lead; T/M/E and Services trail.

Capital investment growth fell for the third
straight quarter, from 7.3% to 6.5%, but is still
among its five-year highs. The US and Mexico
rose and are well above their two-year averages.
Canada declined to well below its average.
Energy/Resources and Manufacturing are the
highest; T/M/E and Healthcare/Pharma are
lowest.

Domestic hiring growth slid from 2.6% to
2.0%. The US remains at its highest level in two
years, but Canada slid to its lowest level in a
year, and Mexico slid sharply to its lowest level
in two years. Healthcare/Pharma and Services
lead; Energy/Resources and T/M/E trail. Wage
pressures are again evident in Mexico.

Please see the full report for charts specific to
individual industries and countries.

Among the various charts and graphics in the report are graphics depicting trends in “Own Company Optimism” on page 9 and “Economic Optimism” found on page 6.

_____

I post various business and economic surveys because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2748.23 as this post is written