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More CFOs seeing better year ahead, except for sales

Roy Harris | March 30, 2012
Nearly two-thirds of North American finance chiefs are turning more optimistic in the latest Deloitte CFO Signals survey -- sharply higher than the 27% expressing increasing business optimism in the previous quarter. And only 15% are more negative, down from 38%.

Were taxes not a factor, CFOs said, they would invest more at home. Half say they will increase domestic investment, with one-third saying they will pay down more debt, and one-third aiming to increase dividends.

Also, the CFOs say that 20% of their cash is held offshore, with the total being 24% among U.S. finance chiefs.

Mergers and acquisitions were the focus of most spending. And while only one out of five companies is actively pursuing a major deal, nearly 55% actively seek smaller strategic deals. The primary focus of most deals appears to be achieving growth, synergies and scale efficiencies around existing businesses.

Listing their companies' top three challenges CFOs say they include revenue growth from existing markets (60%), along with hiring and retaining talent, and prioritizing investments. The framing or adapting of strategy declined as a priority to 27% from 40% last quarter.

The focus on revenue continues, with 57% of companies' seeing revenue growth or preservation as a priority (37% in existing-market revenues and 20% in new markets). The focus on indirect costs dipped to 11% from 14% in the survey, while the focus on direct costs rose.

Deloitte offers more information about its survey, and a chance to participate in future surveys, at


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