Survey: CFOs optimistic about economic growth

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U.S. chief financial officers of middle-market companies are becoming more positive about the state of the industry where they operate, as well as the outlook for growth, according to a GE Capital survey.

The latest survey showed that their level of optimism has increased substantially since they were first surveyed in January of 2010.

“As we continue to track CFO sentiment, it’s clear that top-line growth for middle-market companies is improving. CFOs are more optimistic than they were a year ago, which is evident in their plans to invest in their people and infrastructure,” Dan Henson, president and CEO of GE Capital Americas, said in a statement.

“This is consistent with the uptick in demand we’re seeing across our lending and equipment-leasing businesses,” he added. “Our first-quarter financing volume was up 83 percent, versus the same period a year ago, reflecting much-improved activity levels.”

The survey, which was done during the first quarter of this year, included responses from 530 CFOs of companies with revenue ranging from $50 million to $1 billion and 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.

Across the board, CFOs expect that revenue will increase this year, compared with 2010; 72 percent say they expect higher revenue year-over-year. This is up from 64 percent who expected increased year-over-year revenue when they were asked in January 2010.

The survey also found that 80 percent of CFOs expect to hire additional employees in the next 12 months. CFOs who plan to hire expect to increase their work force by 6 percent. Eighty percent of those positions are expected to be permanent workers.

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