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PricewaterhouseCoopers' Manufacturing Barometer T - Business Outlook Report, April 2009

In the first quarter of 2009, PricewaterhouseCoopers interviewed 62 US-based industrial manufacturing executives about their current business performance, the state of the economy, and their expectations for business growth over the next 12 months. They then compared their responses with the prior quarter's results to see how the panel's 12-month outlook has changed.

Overall, U.S.-based industrial manufacturers project more stability, if not improvement, in early 2010. Looking at the next 12 months, they project slightly negative revenue growth overall, but more expect positive rather than negative growth, a reversal from the prior quarter. Demand and decreasing profitability are overwhelming concerns, and the majority remain pessimistic about the U.S. and world economies over the next 12 months. International sales among those marketing abroad have slowed, but the pace of layoffs may be lessening.

Key findings:
• Senior executives of US- based industrial manufacturers project an average minus 0.7 percent growth over the next 12 months.
• International sales turned increasingly negative in first quarter 2009 for those marketing abroad.
• Pessimism remains even toward the U.S. and world economies over the next 12 months, with 55 percent pessimistic toward the U.S. economy and 58 percent pessimistic toward the world economy.
• Concern about lack of demand is the overwhelming potential barrier to growth over the next 12 months, cited by 95 percent of respondents.
• Gross margins were up for only 15 percent but down for 47 percent - a net 32 percent with lower margins, reflecting greater margin pressures.
• Plans for major new investments of capital over the next 12 months sank from 33 percent last quarter to 24 percent.
• Although work force layoffs are planned over the next 12 months (42 percent net reducing), the pace of reductions may be slowing.


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