Contact: Jim Gray, Duke-Fuqua, (919) 660-2935 or Chris Allen, FEI, (973) 898-4658

CFO SURVEY: Earnings to increase 12% during coming year


CFOs work 60+ hours per week and limit vacation

DURHAM, N.C., October 25 — A new poll of 199 companies indicates that CFOs remain optimistic about the bottom line for their firms. Earnings growth is expected to average 12.5% during the next year (median growth of 10%). These numbers are from the latest Financial Executives Institute/Duke University Corporate Outlook Survey, conducted the week of September 18, 2000. "The combination of earnings growth, relatively high wage and health care costs but small price increases could be occuring because of the strong improvement in worker productivity," notes Phil Livingston, president of FEI. The executives expect sales revenue to grow by 13.4% during the next 12 months.

Inflation and health care costs

CFOs expect to increase the prices of their companies' products 2.2% during the next year, down from an expected increase of 3.5% predicted in last quarter’s survey. Among the 65% of firms that expect to increase their prices, the average price increase will be 3.3%.

"Wages are expected to increase 5% during the next 12 months," notes John Graham, a finance professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and the director of the survey. "Health care costs also continue to escalate. On average, health care costs will increase 9.5% during the next 12 months."


Three-fourths of companies would like to increase employment during the next year, up from 55% last quarter. The median increase in the number of employees is expected to be 4%.

CFOs work long hours and work while on vacation

Recent news reports have highlighted the long work hours put in by laborers. Some economists attribute a fair portion of the booming economic growth of the 1990s to increased work hours, as well as increased time spent logged on while at home or on the road. CFOs are putting in long hours. The average CFO is working 50 hours per week in the office, six hours per week from home, and another five hours while on the road. Notably, CFOs that work for large companies (sales over $1 billion) work a total of 64 hours per week, on average.

These long work hours also infringe on the executive’s vacations. Fifteen percent of CFOS took no or very little vacation in recent years. Another 32% took only about half of their vacation. Even when they do take vacation, the executives frequently check in with the office. Thirty-six percent check in every day of their vacation, and another 28% check in most days. Another 21% keep tabs with work at least twice per week while on vacation. Only 9% of CFOs do not check in with the office at all while on vacation.

About the Survey

The survey is conducted quarterly by FEI and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Each survey polls a cross-section of CFOs from more than 4,000 U.S. companies. The current survey was conducted during the week of September 17, 2000. Complete survey results are available on the Internet at

About FEI and Fuqua

Financial Executives Institute is the leading advocate for the views of corporate financial management. Its 14,000 members hold policy-making positions as chief financial officers, treasurers and controllers at 8,000 companies in the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit

The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University was founded in 1970. Fuqua’s mission is to educate thoughtful business leaders worldwide and to promote the advancement of business management through research. For more information, visit