NABE Reports "Fairly Robust" Fourth Quarter

Jan. 31, 2017
NABE panel reports improved sales, flat profits and rising prices.

The January 2017 National Association for Business Economics (NABE) Business Conditions Survey “suggests a fairly robust business environment in the final months of 2016,” according to NABE President Stuart Mackintosh, CBE, executive director, Group of Thirty. The report presents the responses of 102 NABE members to a survey on business conditions in their firms or industries conducted between December 22, 2016 and January 11, 2017, and reflects fourth quarter 2016 results and the near-term outlook.

“Although profit margins remained flat, sales growth is becoming more widespread, and firms expect to achieve higher margins in the first quarter of 2017 through firmer pricing for their products and services,” says Mackintosh. “At the same time, materials cost pressures also appear to be increasing. Panelists also raised their expectations for economic growth by a fairly substantial margin, with just over two-thirds now expecting GDP growth above 2% in 2017.”

Survey Chair Emily Kolinski Morris, CBE, chief economist, Ford Motor Company, adds, “Recent interest rate increases do not appear to be generating significant headwinds across firms in the NABE survey, although the reported impacts vary by sector.” She also notes that respondents see both risk and opportunity in the potential policies of the Trump administration.

Other report highlights include:

  • Sales increases were more widespread in the last three months of 2016 than in earlier quarters.
  • Expectations for sales in the coming three months also increased.
  • Just over one-fifth (22%) of panelists report that their firms raised prices in the last three months.
  • On net, profit margins reported in the fourth quarter of 2016 were roughly flat.

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