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CFOs Say Benefits Costs A Top Concern

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Many corporate chief financial officers expect their companies to do better over the next few months but predict the economy will weaken.

Researchers at Grant Thornton L.L.P., Chicago, have included figures supporting that conclusion in a report based on a recent survey of 222 CFOs, including 155 at companies with less than $100 million in annual revenue and 13 companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue.

Only 10% of the participating CFOs predicted that the U.S. economy would improve over the next 6 months, and 59% predicted it would deteriorate.

But only 15% said their own company’s financial prospects will worsen over the next 6 months, and 42% said they believe their companies’ prospects will improve.

Similarly, only 16% expect the head counts at their own companies to fall, and 33% expect employment at their companies to increase.

When the researchers asked CFOs about the types of pricing pressures that concern the most, 39% named health care, pension costs and other employee benefits costs as the most pressing concern.

About 26% identified the cost of food, metals and other raw materials as the top concern, and 15% said the cost of energy is the top concern.