CFO survey shows optimism on the economy

U.S. chief financial officers of middle-market companies have grown more positive about the state of their industries and businesses, as well as the state of the domestic economy during the last six months, according to the latest middle-market CFO survey by GE Capital.

In terms of potential threats to the U.S. economy in 2012, concern about European fiscal conditions spiked in the first quarter, matching worries about the U.S. budget deficit and ahead of concern about U.S. unemployment levels.

The two biggest threats cited to business performance during the next 12 months were health care and raw materials costs.

The survey, which took place during the first quarter of 2012, included responses from 495 CFOs of companies with an average revenue of $143 million operating across seven major industries: metals, mining and metals fabrication; food, beverage and agriculture; general manufacturing; health care; retail; technology and business services; and transportation.

“Mid-market CFOs are more optimistic than six months ago despite the European fiscal crisis and inconsistent job growth,” GE Capital Americas president and CEO Dan Henson said in a statement. “A larger majority sees top-line growth and stable or better profits this year, and more will be hiring. These companies have access to affordable capital, which in 2012 is most likely to be targeted for investment to finance growth and to purchase equipment.”

CFOs’ sentiment on the current health of the U.S. economy grew stronger after a significant dip during the third quarter of 2011. However, views of the strength of the global economy fell again, as concerns rose about Europe.

Looking forward, CFOs are more optimistic than they were six months ago about growth in the U.S. economy, in their own industry and about the outlook for their own company.

Results show:

• Ninety-four percent expect the U.S. economy to grow or be stable this year, up 14 points, with 23 percent shifting to a growth outlook.

• Eighty-seven percent anticipate that their industry will grow or be stable this year — even with six months ago — and 9 percent have shifted to a growth outlook.

• Ninety-one percent expect company revenue to grow or be stable this year, with 67 percent seeing an increase, up 5 points.

• Eighty-one percent expect company profits to grow or be stable in 2012, up 8 points.

Other top findings:

• Credit availability/cost: CFOs say credit availability has remained stable during the past 12 months (63 percent), an increase of six points since the last survey, and 59 percent of CFOs believe that the cost of capital will remain the same throughout 2012.

• Pricing outlook: More than half (51 percent) of CFOs expect to raise prices on their company’s products or services this year, down from 59 percent a year earlier.


Suntex Acquires Tampa Area Marina

The Marinas at Little Harbor, with slips and drystack storage, is in a resort community that’s being developed in Ruskin, Fla.

Littelfuse to Acquire Carling Technologies

The $315 million transaction is expected to close in the fourth fiscal quarter.

Boat Sales and Fraud

Boat History Report has tracked a 123 percent increase in fraud on the preowned-boat market since the pandemic buying spree began.

Avoid Cutoff Confusion

Dealers should familiarize themselves with a new law requiring engine cutoff switches so they can inform their customers. Meanwhile, a new program puts Ohio youth in kayaks to learn about the importance of the Great Lakes.

Wave Wifi MNC1250

Wave WiFi’s new Dual Band Marine Network Controller with SIM-activated cellular system (MNC1250) distributes fast reliable internet onboard. It can be connected to any internet source and transmits both 2.4 and 5GHz AP signals for speed and reliability. Gigabit ports provide fast throughput and Wave’s proprietary Graphic User Interface makes it easy to set up and operate.

OneWater Acquires T-H Marine

OneWater Marine purchased the Huntsville, Ala.-based P&A provider for around $185 million.

Groupe Beneteau Acquires Starfisher

The Portugal-based yard builds powerboats from 25 to 35 feet and was doing subcontracting work for the group.