WSJ: Finance Chiefs Less Optimistic About 2012 Growth

Tuesday, 13 Dec 2011 08:55 AM

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An annual Bank of America survey reveals chief financial officers (CFOs) are less optimistic about economic growth in 2012 than in the past. Yet, according to The Wall Street Journal, the majority does not expect their companies to respond by slashing employment or research and development.

According to the annual latest survey of 600 executives by Bank of America Merrill Lynch 38 percent of respondents said they expect the U.S. economy to grow in 2012, down from 56 percent a year ago and 66 percent the prior year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

CFOs rated the economy a score of 44 out of 100 — its lowest score in the survey’s 14-year history, The Wall Street Journal added.

These findings are much in tune with economic expectations revealed by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Survey of Fund Managers for December.

MarketWatch says this survey of 190 institutional investors indicates a growing majority, almost two-thirds of the panel, predict 2012 will be a year of below-trend growth and below-trend inflation.

Despite the outlook on economic conditions, both groups also appear to have favorable expectations for U.S. companies in the new year.

About 48 percent of executives expected their companies to maintain the current number of employees, while 46 percent said they expected to hire employees, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Though less than half of the CFOs surveyed are expecting their profit margins to grow, slightly more than half expect revenues to be up. And more than three-fourths reported that their R&D expenses are equal to or above pre-recession levels.

The decisions U.S. companies are making display that they have confidence in their corporate finances. Also, given that the prospects of growth in Europe are even grimmer, it is little wonder that the Fund Manager Survey revealed 50 percent of the panel believed the outlook for corporate profits is most favorable in the United States.

A net 8 percent of asset allocators are overweight equities this month, compared with a net 5 percent underweight in November. But the panel only increased equity positions in one region — the United States, says MarketWatch of the survey results.

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