While some economic signs seem to be improving, nearly 38% of manufacturing CFOs and senior comptrollers surveyed by Grant Thornton LLP do not expect to see the U.S. economy coming out of the current recession until the second half of 2010.
Nearly 27% expect the recession to end during the first half of 2010, and nearly 15% see a more bullish outlook, predicting the recession will end by the end of 2009. The bears weighed in also, however, with some 20% of CFOs not expecting to see a turnaround until 2011 or beyond.
In a study conducted in March 2009, only 12.6% of manufacturing CFOs expected to raise prices during the next six months. In this survey, double that percentage (25%) of CFOs expected to raise prices during the next six months, and nearly 63% expect to keep prices at current levels. Earlier this year, 68% indicated that they would keep prices at current levels.
Manufacturing CFOs continue to be most concerned about the impact of employee benefits on their bottom line, with more than 73% indicating it was their biggest concern (same as in the March 2009 study), followed by raw materials (63%).
A positive outlook was in the area of energy costs, where only 32% indicated it was major concern, compared to the 47% surveyed earlier this year that indicated energy costs were a major concern.
Another good piece of news is that only 22% expect to reduce headcount over the next six months, a vast improvement over the nearly 47% in the earlier study that indicted they were reducing headcount.
When compared to last year, one-third indicated that they are less worried about their organizations ability to continue as a going concern today, while 27% are more worried. The outlook remained unchanged for 40% of respondents.