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Published on : Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Mid-market companies show their resiliency in the face of continued uncertainty, according to the findings of a Deloitte-sponsored survey of 503 executives at mid-sized companies in the United States during September – October 2013. The fall 2013 Mid-market perspectives: Moving ahead report underscores mid-market companies’ strengthening fundamentals and points to significant improvements across financial metrics.
Sales at mid-market companies are trending higher, with 58% reporting higher revenues over the past 12 months, up from 44% in the spring 2013 survey. Profits are also up, with more firms reporting higher earnings (44% vs. 35%) and gross profit margins (40% vs. 30%). Almost one-half (49%) of mid-market companies say they have realized productivity increases in the past 12 months, compared to 38% in the spring. Finally, these companies continue to beef up coffers, with 41% reporting higher cash balances compared to 34% in the spring.
“The economy continues to operate with great levels of uncertainty and yet mid-market companies in general are performing well and their executives have an increasingly positive outlook. This is a true testament of this segment’s resilience,” said Tom McGee, Deputy CEO, Deloitte LLP and leader of Deloitte’s mid-market practice, Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services and Deloitte’s mergers & acquisitions services practice. “Our findings indicate that despite headwinds, mid-market companies are well poised to take advantage of a potential uptick in the economy.”
As the performance of mid-market companies continues to improve — with a majority of executives (58%) anticipating revenue growth over the coming 12 months — staffing up for growth is one of the key priorities.
In fact, hiring in the mid-market defies the sluggish improvements in the general labor market, as mid-market companies record significant increases in full-time hiring: One-half of mid-market executives say their full-time workforce has grown over the last 12 months, compared to 34% who said so in the spring.
Moreover, looking ahead, 54% of mid-market executives expect their full-time workforce to grow in the next 12 months, compared to 38% in the spring.
The U.S. continues to be far and away the largest contributor to growth for mid-market companies, as an overwhelming 89% of mid-market executives say the domestic market accounted for most of their business growth over the past 12 months. Looking ahead to the next 12 months, however, this number drops to 81%, demonstrating a renewed focus on global growth opportunities.
Additionally, a higher number of mid-market companies, 61% compared to 55% in the spring, say at least some of their revenues over the past year came from outside the U.S.
Despite the strong performance of mid-market companies, there are ongoing challenges that continue to be top of mind for executives both for their own businesses and the economy at large. Moreover, the majority of these challenges are coming from a common source: the federal government.
Specifically, mid-market executives pinpoint government budget challenges (62% vs. 69% in the spring), rising healthcare costs (59% vs. 60% in the spring), and high tax rates (42% vs. 53% in the spring) as the primary obstacles to their business prospects and to U.S. economic growth.
“Despite improvements in sentiments around budget challenges and tax rates, factors related to the government continue to be a main concern for the majority of mid-market executives,” says McGee. “Furthermore, it appears that mid-market executives link the threat of rising healthcare costs to the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”
When asked about what would be the most impactful measure the U.S. government can take to help mid-sized businesses grow over the next 12 months, 41% of respondents said rolling back healthcare reform.
Following government challenges, the continued lack of consumer confidence remains an obstacle and is a concern for 46% of mid-market companies.
Finally, as these companies ramp up hiring, they are increasingly facing the challenge of finding the right talent, as demonstrated by the jump in the number of respondents citing the issue as a top challenge: Nearly one-quarter of mid-market executives cite the skills shortage as a top obstacle to U.S. growth, up from 16% in the spring survey.
From Sept. 24 to Oct. 21 2013, a Deloitte survey conducted by OnResearch, a market research firm, polled 503 executives at U.S. mid-sized companies about their expectations, experiences and plans for becoming more competitive in the current economic environment. Respondents were from companies with annual revenues between $50 million and $1 billion.