Daily News: July 24, 2013

U.S. CFOs More Optimistic About Economy

U.S. financial officers gave the economy its highest score in five years and were significantly more confident about economic growth in 2013 in the latest Bank of America Merrill Lynch CFO Outlook survey.

Executives who participated in the 2013 CFO Outlook Mid-Year Update gave the U.S. economy an average score of 58 out of 100, up from 49 in the previous survey conducted in late 2012. CFOs gave the global economy a score of 51, up from 45.

CFOs voiced even stronger optimism about economic growth, with 55% expecting expansion in 2013, compared with 39% in the previous survey. Only 10% said they expect the economy to shrink, down from 24%.

This confidence comes as U.S. companies continue to do more business in other countries, with 76% of CFOs reporting some type of activity in foreign markets. That is up from 73% in the previous survey and 67% one year ago, as more companies are buying from, selling to and establishing operations in non-U.S. markets.

“Beyond their brighter view of the economy, CFOs and their companies remain focused on new markets and opportunities for international growth,” said Alastair Borthwick, head of Global Commercial Banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “While expanding into other countries is attractive, doing business globally brings many challenges and often requires a wide range of financial solutions. More than ever, U.S. companies are seeking help with accessing capital, managing risk, maximizing cash and increasing efficiency as they grow their businesses.”

Other notable findings in the 2013 CFO Outlook Mid-Year Update:

Forty-eight percent of CFOs expect their companies to hire employees this year, up from 45% in the previous survey.

Regarding revenues and profits, 56% of CFOs expect revenue growth — same as in the previous survey — while 43% anticipate a growth in profit margin, up from 40%.

CFOs gave the manufacturing sector a score of 57 out of 100, up from 53 in the previous survey the highest mark since 2011. This was the seventh consecutive survey in which the sector received a score above 50.

The full report will be available in August.

To read the entire news release click here.