CEOs Expect Higher Sales, Capex And Employment

By John S. McClenahen Although it's possible a slower-than-anticipated rate of overall U.S. economic growth could cause them to scale down their projections, chief executives of major U.S. corporations foresee higher sales, capital spending and domestic employment between now and early 2005. "America's CEOs believe that the U.S. economy is fundamentally healthy, and see capital spending, sales and employment continuing to grow steadily over the next six months," says Henry A. McKinnell Jr., chairman and CEO of Pfizer Inc. and chairman of the Business Roundtable, the Washington, D.C.-based group of CEOs that released its latest economic outlook on Sept. 1. Specifically, 89% of the 118 CEOs surveyed expect company sales to increase during the next six months, 9% expect sales to stay the same and 3% expect a decrease. Some 49% of the CEOs expect their companies to increase capital expenditures during the next six months, 45% anticipate no change and 7% foresee a decrease. The CEOs are a little more cautious on adding jobs. While 40% expect company employment levels to increase during the next six months, 48% foresee no change and 12% expect employment at their firms to decline. The Business Roundtable is an association of CEOs of 150 corporations with more than 10 million U.S. employees and $4 trillion in annual revenues. Its next economic outlook is slated to be released Dec. 1.

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