CEOs bullish on sales, new survey finds

Some 73 percent of CEOs expect sales to rise in the next six months, the highest share in three years, according to a Business Roundtable survey.

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    In this 2009 file photo, Derek Jenkins of Baldor Electric Co. moved a large roll of steel inside the company's factory in St. Louis. In a new survey, nearly three-quarters of US CEOs expect sales to rise in the next six months. Nearly half expect to spend more on capital equipment.
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Enthusiasm for the recovery grew among America's CEOs in the first quarter of 2010, according to a new survey.

Some 73 percent of chief executives expect to see their companies' sales rise over the next six months, the most bullish reading since the first quarter of 2007.

Nearly half (47 percent) expect to boost capital spending in the next six months. That's the highest share of CEOs planning to buy equipment, expand plant, and make other capital investments since the second quarter of 2006.

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"These are all good numbers," said Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon Communications and chairman of the Business Roundtable, which released its survey Wednesday of more than 100 CEOs at the largest US corporations. “This survey shows each category of economic measurement moving in the right direction.”

The laggard in the mix is employment. Only 29 percent of the CEOs in the survey expect to add workers in the next six months compared with 50 percent who expect their payrolls to stay the same.

Still, that's an improvement over the fourth quarter of 2009, when only 19 percent of chief executives expected to boost employment. And it marks the first time since the first quarter of 2008 that more CEOs expected to add workers than lay them off, said John Cartellani, president of the Business Roundtable.

The survey was conducted between March 15 and March 31 with 106 of 160 CEOs responding.

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