A growing number of U.S.-based manufacturing executives are upbeat about the outlook for the domestic economy, with the vast majority forecasting revenue growth at their companies this year, according to a survey released earlier this week by PwC US.
In a survey of executives in fourth-quarter 2012, some 48 percent said they were optimistic about the 12-month outlook for the U.S. economy, up 11 percent from PwC's third-quarter survey.
The survey results also showed that 83 percent of manufacturing executives were forecasting revenue growth at their firms this year, with only 3 percent forecasting sales declines.
The outlook for international markets, however, is not so rosy.
Just 32 percent of executives expressed optimism about the global economy, and 53 percent expressed uncertainty about international markets.
"The improved sentiment regarding the domestic outlook contrasts with the continued high level of uncertainty concerning the international stage," said Bobby Bono, U.S. industrial manufacturing leader for PwC. "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."
To Bono's point, just 23 percent of executives said their firms were planning to enter new markets, down from 40 percent in fourth-quarter 2011.
Likewise, just 17 percent of executives said their companies planned to establish new facilities in international markets, down from 32 percent in fourth-quarter 2011.
"We are clearly seeing a pullback in overseas expansion planning, as management teams cautiously analyze the global outlook and keep their cash onshore," Bono said.
However, Bono noted that PwC expects these "a reversal of these trends as the global macroeconomic climate improves and companies seek to more aggressively compete for business in international markets."
Overall, 47 percent of executives said their companies were planning major capital investments over the next 12 months, down from 67 percent in fourth-quarter 2011.
However, 80 percent of executives said their firms planned to increase operational spending over the next 12 months. According to the survey, companies will be ramping up spending on facility expansions (43 percent), new-product launches (40 percent) and R&D (38 percent).