US Treasurers and CFOs Confident of Strong 2014

US corporate treasurers and chief financial officers (CFOs) see business conditions improving in 2014, with the American economy growing by 2.1% and creating 1.95m new jobs, according to a new survey of 824 executives released at the start of the new year by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), the parent of gtnews.

The
‘AFP Business Outlook Survey’
, which has tracked business predictions of US CFOs, corporate treasurers and other financial executives for the last 10 years, found that 52% of finance executives anticipate improved business conditions in 2014, with growth concentrated in the second half of the year. This is the largest percentage predicting improvement since before the recession of 2008-09. Among optimistic respondents, 11% see US gross domestic product (GDP) growth over 3% in 2014.

However, the survey found consensus around a bumpy start to the year, with only 29% of finance executives expecting improvement in the first two quarters. Even if the US economy grows modestly, more than three in five corporate practitioners expect revenue growth at their companies, with 57% expecting somewhat more revenue in 2014 and 5 percent expecting significantly more.

“With corporate revenue growth, the jobs will follow,” said Jim Kaitz, AFP’s president and chief executive (CEO). “Companies have pent-up demand for positions that had been put on hold in the last few years.” The survey revealed that finance executives now expect their companies to begin hiring, both in the US and abroad, with 43% anticipating expanding US payrolls. Among those with employees outside the US, 41% plan on further expanding non-US payrolls.

Yet, they see only modest inflation, predicting a consumer price index (CPI) growth rate of only +1.3%. Half the responding companies said they had taken some type of action to take advantage of historically low interest rates, such as refinancing long-term debt or issuing new debt. And while finance executives do not anticipate a significant change in their company’s near-term borrowing costs, 47% say that they plan to take advantage of low rates before any potential interest rate hike.

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