By Rob Starr, Content Manager, Big4.com
According to the Q4 2012 Manufacturing Barometer released by PwC US , sentiment regarding the prospects for the U.S. economy in the year ahead increased among U.S. industrial manufacturers, while uncertainty around outlook for the world economy prevailed. Reflecting the increased level of optimism, 83 percent of respondents forecast revenue growth at their own companies for the next 12 months, and only three percent expect negative results. Along with greater optimism, indications regarding new hiring increased to 58 percent, up 21 points from the same quarter in 2011.
Bobby Bono, U.S. industrial manufacturing leader for PwC comments:
“Overall sentiment among U.S. industrial manufacturers regarding the prospects for the domestic economy rose in the fourth quarter along with company growth projections, which trended higher as well,”he said. “The improved sentiment regarding the domestic outlook contrasts with the continued high level of uncertainty concerning the international stage. This dichotomy appears to be playing out in the healthy indications for net new hiring and operational investment, which contrast with the pullback in plans for international expansion. Management teams are placing their bets on the U.S. economy as they seek avenues to strengthen their competitive positions and foster growth.”
According to PwC survey respondents, operational spending plans remained consistent in the fourth quarter of 2012, with 80 percent planning increased spending in the next 12 months, off slightly from 83 percent in the third quarter of 2012. The top categories pertaining to increased expenditures included facilities expansion (43 percent), new products or service introductions (40 percent) and research & development (38 percent).
Gross margins rose moderately in the fourth quarter of 2012. They were higher for 35 percent of panelists (up 9 points) and lower for 22 percent (off 1 point), for a net plus 13 percent, ten points higher than the third quarter’s plus three percent.