Treasury and finance professionals from Asia to the UnitedStates generally are optimistic about their companies' performanceand U.S. economic growth over the next 12 months, according toEuroFinance/J.P. Morgan electronic surveys done at two conferencesearlier this month.

Using instant voting technology, EuroFinance measured sentimentat the U.S. conference, made up largely of corporatetreasurers and finance professionals from across the United States,which was held May 9-11 in Florida and focused largely on the Northand South American and European economies. Another conference, heldin Singapore on May 9, focused on Asia and used the same votingmethod. Here are some findings based on the instant voting:

  • 81% of the U.S. conference attendees are optimistic about theircompanies' performance in the next 12 months. A similar question inSingapore found 67% are optimistic about company performance. 58%of the U.S. attendees also are optimistic about the U.S. economy'sperformance in the next 12 months.
  • 60% of U.S. professionals believe China's economy will slowfurther, while 45% of Singapore attendees aren't very worried abouta slowdown and 40% don't believe there will be a significantslowdown. 21% of U.S. attendees believe China's economy will growfaster.
  • 58% of U.S. attendees believe the euro will depreciate between5% and 15% against the U.S. dollar in next 12 months. 40% ofSingapore attendees agree, while 36% think it will remain about thesame.
  • 52% of U.S. attendees say the European financial crisis has hadsome impact on their company. This compares with Asia, where 48%say the crisis has had some impact on their business, and 13% sayit has had a considerable impact.

More specific to the concerns of treasuryprofessionals are questions on forecasting, refinancing and cashinvestment.

  • 37% of U.S. attendees say the biggest barrier to effectiveforecasting is that the rest of the business doesn't communicatewell with their department. This was echoed by Asian attendees,where 46% cite communication problems. Having the right technologytools is an issue for 34% of U.S. attendees, while 29% of theirAsian peers face that problem. The biggest barrier to forecastingfor the Asian group is volatility in sales, financial markets,etc., while 30% of U.S. professionals see that as a problem.
  • 40% of U.S. attendees and 53% of Asian attendees protect theirsupply chain by working with banks to provide financing. 27% ofU.S. and 30% of Asian attendees squeeze the supply chain, while 25%of U.S. and 37% of Asian attendees offer better payment terms.
  • With U.S. corporates' cash reserves at an all-time high, themethod of investing was fairly distributed in both groups: 24% ofU.S. attendees are using cash for mergers and acquisitions, 22% forreducing debt and 22% distributing it to shareholders. In Asia, 25%are investing cash in M&A, 21% are paying down debt and 18% aremaking diversified investments.
  • When asked where their most important growth plans areglobally, attendees went local. While 60% of U.S. attendees citeLatin America, 33% say China and 33% the rest of Asia, 70% of Asianattendees say Asia (outside of China) and 60% say China. Only 18%of Asian attendees are looking to grow in Latin America.

In Asia, almost 50% of attendees also say there will be a fullyconvertible renminbi within 5 to 10 years, while 18% believe itwill take less than five years. Anil Gupta, a professor at theUniversity of Maryland's Smith School of Business and a leadingexpert on China and India, agrees the renminbi will be convertiblewithin 5 to 10 years. One of China's goals, to make Shanghai aglobal financial center, cannot be accomplished unless the currencyis fully convertible, he says. A year ago, Gupta asked an economistat the People's Bank of China which was more important to them, tocontrol the currency or make Shanghai a global financial center.The answer, he says, was Shanghai.

For another recent look at the views of treasuryprofessionals, see Risk Challenges Loom Larger.

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Ginger Szala

Ginger Szala is executive managing editor of Investment Advisor magazine. She covered the financial business and alternatives industry for 30 years while editor of Futures Magazine Group. MSJ Northwestern, BA University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is based in Chicago. Go Blackhawks!