San Diego Business Journal

San Diego CEOs Voice Cautious Optimism for 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 will likely be a replay of 2011, which was a replay of 2010. So say a majority of the region’s CEOs.

Nevertheless, they are optimistic enough to think seriously about hiring.

Vistage International Inc. collected responses from 46 San Diego County CEOs as part of a recent nationwide survey.

Some 35 percent of San Diego CEOs said they think U.S. economic conditions have improved during the past year, while 50 percent asserted they had stayed the same. Looking to the year ahead, 39 percent expect improvement, while 52 percent said they expect more of the same.

Some 54 percent of respondents said they expected their firms to increase their head count in 2012 — with 24 percent saying they plan to do it in the first quarter. One-third of the CEOs said they expected staffing to stay the same during 2012; 13 percent said they expected to cut jobs.

Some 72 percent of CEOs said they expected their revenue to increase during the coming year.

The same number, 72 percent, said they expected to keep prices for their products the same, while 24 percent said they planned to raise prices.

One out of three respondents said they planned to increase fixed investment expenditures during 2012.

Respondents were given a multiple choice question about the top challenge to their business. The biggest challenge, cited by one out of four executives, was customer retention and lead generation. Some 21 percent cited managing costs.

The survey covered a variety of topics, including who will be the Republican nominee for president. Some 52 percent predict it will be part-time La Jolla resident Mitt Romney.

— Brad Graves