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CFO Insights — Special edition: Results from 2019 Q2 "CFO Signals" survey

Published on: Jun 20, 2019

After riding high through 2017, CFOs’ sentiment and expectations began to decline in early 2018. Citing growing worries about the economic impacts of geopolitics, U.S. political turmoil, and U.S. trade policy, just 28 percent of CFOs in the Q4 2018 survey said they expected the North American economy to be better in 2019 — half the level going into 2018.

The declines continued this quarter, but there was a silver lining: about 80 percent of CFOs said they expect any downturn to be mild, and about half of those said they expect a short duration (less than 5 percent expect a sharp, prolonged downturn). These expectations may help explain why, even as CFOs’ expectations for revenue, earnings, and hiring growth continued to decline this quarter, expectations for capital spending continued to rise.

In addition, this quarter we asked CFOs about their top personal focus areas as they help their companies navigate the current business environment. Three areas comprise a clear top tier: profitability, corporate strategy, and growth. There were several other focus areas that were substantial as well, especially when viewed through an industry lens.

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