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CEO Survey Shows Cautious Optimism

Vistage International, a membership organization for chief executive officers, released the findings of its national Vistage CEO confidence index March 13, showing cautious optimism among CEOs regarding economic expectations in 2007.

According to the survey, most firms believe the economic slowdown has run its course and the confidence index rose to 95.4 in the first quarter of 2007, up from 93 in the fourth quarter of 2006.

Uncertainties in the housing market and in consumer financial health made for a small increase in confidence for the first quarter of 2007 versus the fourth quarter of 2006, with 25 percent of firms expecting improved economic conditions in the first quarter of 2007.

For one-third of the 2,000 CEOs surveyed, finding and hiring qualified people was the largest concern. An additional 20 percent of the firms offered flexible hours and the ability to work from home as employee incentives.

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First-quarter planned fixed investment spending jumped above previous quarters, but remained below the figures reported in early 2006 and 2005, restrained by high labor costs and smaller price increases.

A vast majority of CEOs expect higher revenues and profits from the previous quarter, but not significantly higher due to higher costs and less pricing power.

Participants in the survey also said prospective employees might want to delete those incriminating photos from their MySpace profiles. Some 21 percent of CEOs use Internet searches through social networking sites MySpace and Facebook, as well as Google searches to research job candidates. Actual CEO participation in social networking sites was only 4 percent.

Vistage International has more than 13,500 members in 15 counties. Its members generate $300 billion in annual revenue. The organization has its office in San Diego.

, Andy Killion

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