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CFO SignalsTM: 2012 Q4 Results

Less uncertainty, but not much more clarity

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Results: CFO SignalsTM Q4

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Highlights: CFO SignalsTM Q4

Last quarter, it was quite apparent that the combination of sluggish economic growth, persistent European Union issues, approaching elections in the United States, and the impending “fiscal cliff” were making CFOs very nervous. Even though corporate performance was largely positive and equities markets were doing well, last quarter’s survey results indicated the sharpest decline in expectations in the two-and-a-half-year history of the survey.

One major source of uncertainty is now resolved. The U.S. elections are over, and not much seems to have changed. The president is still a Democrat, the House is still Republican-led, and the Senate still has a Democratic majority. In the aftermath, the fiscal cliff parties have been working the inside and outside game of negotiations, but largely holding to the same positions they held before. Little wonder that CFOs’ outlook does not appear to have changed much either.

In fact, lingering uncertainty has pushed CFOs’ investment expectations even lower – with new lows for growth in capital spending, R&D, and marketing investments. CFOs are cautious on domestic hiring, too, and more of them are projecting cuts than at any time in the last two years. It is important to note that these expectations are largely premised on not going over the fiscal cliff and conditions not getting worse in Europe – since most CFOs also said they don’t expect either to be a factor in the near term.

Download the 2012 Q4 CFO Signals report above.

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