Positive momentum as 70pc say firms have returned to growth
SEVEN out of 10 finance chiefs have revealed their company has returned to growth, with many predicting further improvements this year.
A new survey found half of the chief financial officers (CFOs) at large Irish companies were optimistic about the financial prospects of their company in the first three months of the year.
A quarter of those quizzed indicated they did not need funding from banks during the first quarter, with borrowings largely expected to remain unchanged or to decrease over the coming 12 months.
However, talent costs, fuel/energy prices and industry-specific regulation were listed as the top three external factors that may impede businesses over the coming year, the Deloitte study stated.
Shane Mohan, a partner at Deloitte, said it was encouraging that CFOs were feeling more optimistic about the financial prospects of their company.
"This is attributed largely to external factors such as the overall economic situation and industry trends," said Mr Mohan.
"Indeed, economic growth in the EU is seen as one of the biggest drivers of company performance over the next 12 months.
"Previously, survey results indicated that CFOs were more confident in their own companies' performance than that of the overall economy.
"It is positive to see more of a balance in this regard, and 85pc of respondents believe the level of external financial and economic uncertainty facing their business is low."
The quarterly survey is the 19th in a series and was carried out in March to establish the views of CFOs of listed companies, large private companies and Irish subsidiaries of overseas multinational companies in relation to the financial markets, economic outlook and business trends on a quarterly basis.
Almost seven out of 10 signalled that capital expenditure within their organisation was likely to increase, and 77pc stated their corporate strategy was expansionary.
Almost eight out of ten believe Ireland's tax regime is business friendly while 38pc of CFOs feel it is a good time to take more risk on their company's balance sheet – a fall of 6pc on last quarter's results.
With regards to the macro economy, 69pc of CFOs believe the Irish economy has already returned to growth, or will do so before the end of the year.
Confidence also remains buoyant with regards to foreign direct investment, exports and GDP with 73pc, 76pc and 73pc of CFOs respectively expecting an increase in these economic metrics over the coming year.
Findings indicate that CFOs predict revenue growth in their firms will be driven by new offerings in 2014. There is also an increased view among respondents that their businesses will grow organically rather than by acquisition.
Elsewhere, no respondents believed unemployment rates would rise, with almost eight out of 10 expecting them to continue to fall.
On availability of talent, a slight majority (55pc) indicated they were not finding it difficult to employ individuals with the required skills.