Manufacturing executives, especially those tasked with managing the financial end of the operation, are always looking for positive signs in the marketplace. While it's too soon to conclude that 2013 will be everything manufacturers have been hoping for, here's a good news/bad news/best news scenario for the year, based on consulting firm Deloitte's recent survey of more than 100 CFOs at large North American companies.
The Good News: Respondents are much more optimistic about the state of their companies and the economy than they've been since last summer. About half of the CFOs surveyed expressed rising optimism, while 20% expressed rising pessimism, representing a major, positive shift.
The Bad News: CFOs tend to always be optimistic at the beginning of the year, based on previous study results, and then they get progressively more pessimistic as the year goes on. Also, public policy uncertainty (debt ceiling, sequestration, possible defense cuts) is having an impact on more than 90% of all respondents' companies. Tax policy (or lack thereof) is also weighing on the minds of 75% of respondents.
The Best News: "Many companies appear well-funded, lean and ready to grow," says Greg Dickinson, director of Deloitte's CFO Signals Survey, "and they are looking for tailwinds and becoming more aggressive in finding growth opportunities." Also, companies today are focusing more on pursuing opportunities than on limiting risk, and more on growing revenue than cutting costs.