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Survey: cautious CEOs hold back on growth.

While the majority of CEOs of America's fastest growing companies continue to be positive about the nation's economy, they have scaled back near-term growth estimates for their own companies, according to the latest Coopers & Lybrand "Trendsetter Barometer" survey, completed at the end of June.

Looking ahead to year-end 1992, the vast majority of growth company CEOs foresee positive economic growth for the country as a whole: 86 percent, up slightly from 82 percent in March. CEOs predict a national growth rate of 2.89 percent, almost mirroring their March forecast of 2.90 percent, "Trendsetter Barometer" finds. Furthermore, looking 12 months ahead, almost two-thirds of the CEOs interviewed (64 percent) report guarded optimism about the economy, down slightly but consolidating a sharp increase to 68 percent in March from a low of 42 percent last December. Only 6 percent are outright pessimistic, compared to 10 percent three months before.

Yet CEOs' near-term growth estimate for themselves is more cautious, according to the survey. Growth company CEOs have scaled back their anticipated growth rates for year-end to 24.6 percent, a period-to-period reduction of 9 percent from the 27.0 percent rate predicted in March, the survey reveals.

"The decrease in our panelists' near-term growth expectations for their own companies is a troubling sign," explained Tom Basilo, a partner with Coopers & Lybrand's Emerging Business Services group. "It is reassuring to note, however, that over the longer term, CEOs are more sanguine. When asked to project one year ahead to June 1993, their growth rates bounce back to 26.3 percent."

Plan to Add Jobs

Growth company CEOs continue to plan to add more jobs: 81 percent say they will add employees over the next 12 months, paralleling 80 percent in the March survey. Only 5 percent of growth CEOs now plan to reduce their work force, up from 3 percent in March. Overall, "Trendsetter Barometer" CEOs expect to add 15.3 percent more employees to their present work force in the next 12 months.

Continuing earlier patterns, 46 percent of growth company CEOs say they will look to hire more professionals and technicians, and 42 percent will add sales and marketing personnel.

However, "Trendsetter Barometer" found a sharp downturn in plans to add white-collar support this quarter. Only 27 percent of CEOs cite plans to add jobs in this area, down from 36 percent in March.

"Trendsetter Barometer" found that service industries continue to be more aggressive in adding jobs than the product sector, with 17.2 percent employment growth planned over the next 12 months compared to 13.5 percent growth planned by product companies.

"This trend is consistent with the greater impact of the recession on growth firms in the product sector," explained Basilo. "We will be watching for signs of resurgence among these product companies in the months ahead." Coopers & Lybrand's "Trendsetter Barometer" is developed and compiled by the firm's Emerging Business Services group with assistance from the opinion and economic research firm of Business Science International. At each Coopers & Lybrand office, an Emerging Business Services team is available to serve the needs of growing and midsize companies.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Hagedorn Publication
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:1992 survey by Coopers and Lybrand
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Aug 12, 1992
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