Revenue growth expectations among CFOs in North America declined this quarter, according to a new survey by Deloitte.

Deloitte released its first quarter CFO Signals survey Thursday, recording a ninth-straight quarter of optimism in North America despite mixed performance metrics. However, revenue growth expectations fell to 5.4 percent from 6.0 percent last quarter and capital spending expectations declined slightly to 5.2 percent from last quarter’s 5.5 percent. Both declines mostly stemmed from lower expectations in the energy and resources sector.

Forty-six percent of the CFOs surveyed by Deloitte said U.S. markets are overvalued, down from 61 percent last quarter. An overwhelming majority of 93 percent of the survey respondents said debt is currently an attractive financing option, while one-third of public company CFOs view equity financing favorably, down from 48 percent last quarter.

Close to three-quarters of the public company CFOs surveyed said they have experienced some form of shareholder activism.  About half the CFOs polled said their companies have made at least one major business decision specifically in response to activism. 

“This quarter suggests that optimism among CFOs is resilient,” said Deloitte LLP national managing partner Sanford Cockrell III, who leads the Deloitte CFO Program. “While new uncertainties like currency fluctuations and market shifts became elevated, sentiment continues to hold strong.”  

CFOs’ outlook on the global economy remained skeptical. Only 18 percent regarded China’s economy as good, down from 34 percent last quarter, and only 13 percent expected improvement within a year, down from 25 percent in Q4 2015.

Many CFOs said they are focusing more on North America, China and emerging markets, while focusing less on Europe. Many also indicate a lower exposure to the euro, and there was an even split between companies increasing and decreasing their debt levels.

Still, more than 25 percent of CFOs expressed plans to expand operational capacity in China. Expectations for Europe remained dismal, as 2 percent of CFOs surveyed described Europe’s economy as good, and only 10 percent expected it to improve in the next year. 

CFOs of privately held companies reported a narrower range of reporting and communication activities and also said they perform these activities less often than their public-company counterparts. Relatively few report suffering from limited financing options (likely aided by recently-favorable cash levels and debt markets).

To download a copy of the survey, visit

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