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Wells Fargo International Business Indicator: International Outlook Softens for U.S. Companies

04/01/2015
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Indicator score down to 63; international business still important long-term

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Amid concerns of weak global economic conditions, U.S. companies anticipate a decrease in the volume of exports and profits stemming from international business this year, according to the latest Wells Fargo International Business Indicator. Thirty-nine percent of the U.S. companies surveyed expect to see an increase in profits from their international business in 2015, down from 51 percent in 2014. Similarly, only 30 percent expect to see exports increase in 2015, compared to 50 percent in 2014. However, despite dampened short-term expectations, a majority of companies remain bullish on future international business, with 80 percent agreeing that U.S. companies should consider expanding internationally for long-term growth.

Released today by the International Group of Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC), the Wells Fargo International Business Indicator tracks the strength and direction of the international outlook of U.S. companies, surveying more than 250 U.S. companies with annual revenue of $50 million or more that conduct at least some international business.

“The latest Indicator results reflect what we’re seeing in the marketplace and hearing from our customers,” said Sanjiv Sanghvi, head of Wells Fargo Global Banking. “Continued concern about global economic conditions, slowing growth in China, the value of the U.S. dollar and its effect on exports, are impacting short-term international business activity. However, while the near-term outlook has softened, U.S. companies value international markets for business development and we expect to continue to see them investing in the global marketplace as they plan for long-term growth.”

Expectations cool for short-term international activity

Continuing in positive territory for the second consecutive year, the overall 2015 Wells Fargo Business Indictor score fell five points from 68 in 2014 to 63 in 2015, reflecting the dampened short-term outlook. Only 37 percent of U.S. companies surveyed said they see the global business climate improving this year. As a result, only 54 percent of companies surveyed said they plan to increase activity in 2015, a decline from 69 percent in 2014.

U.S. companies see long-term value in international expansion

U.S. companies remain confident about the future of the global marketplace. A majority of the U.S. companies surveyed (60 percent) expect to increase international business development planning in 2015. Additionally, nearly half (49 percent) believe business outside the U.S. will be increasingly important to their overall financial success in the coming year.

Factors impacting international decisions

According to the Indicator, U.S. businesses expect international business factors, including regulations at home (57 percent) and abroad (56 percent); political stability abroad (51 percent); and currency and exchange rates (39 percent) to have a negative impact on their businesses in 2015.

When assessing new international markets to enter, U.S. companies are most concerned with the following factors: political stability (89 percent), infrastructure (82 percent), trade regulations (82 percent), ability to enforce contracts (80 percent), ease of trading (80 percent) and availability of skilled labor (79 percent).

U.S. neighbors, China remain key markets; Brazil, India also eyed for future growth

According to the Indicator, U.S. companies consider Canada and China as the most important countries today for international business, followed closely by Mexico and Western Europe:

  • China 23 percent
  • Canada 23 percent
  • Mexico 20 percent
  • Western Europe 19 percent

Looking out two to three years, U.S. companies also believe China (25 percent) and Mexico (22 percent ) are the top two “hot-spots” for their future growth, with Brazil and India (each 13 percent) also showing promise.

The International Business Indicator score represents the average of responses for two questions regarding the level of importance and activity that U.S. companies expect from their international business in the next 12 months. The Indicator score ranges from zero to 100, where 100 indicates an absolute positive outlook, 50 indicates a neutral outlook, and zero indicates an absolute negative outlook.

For more information on the Wells Fargo Indicator, including a complete report of the findings and a video overview with Sanjiv Sanghvi, visit https://www.wellsfargo.com/indicator.

About the Wells Fargo International Business Indicator

On behalf of Wells Fargo, global research firm GfK conducted 253 telephone interviews between December 12, 2014 and February 6, 2015 with executives at U.S. companies with $50 million or more in annual revenue that conduct business internationally. Additionally, participants had to be associate vice president/director level or above, with either direct decision-making or some influence over the company’s international business plans and/or strategies. The margin of error on the total is +/-7.9 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

About Wells Fargo & Company

Wells Fargo operates from 36 countries, including branches in the Cayman Islands, Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), Hong Kong, London, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo and Toronto. The company provides middle market businesses, corporations, financial institutions, and multilateral organizations with a wide range of international solutions.

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.7 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 8,700 locations, 12,500 ATMs, and the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 36 countries to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 265,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 29 on Fortune’s 2014 rankings of America’s largest corporations.

About GfK

GfK is one of the world’s largest research companies, with more than 13,000 experts working to discover new insights into the way people live, think and shop, in over 100 markets, every day. GfK is constantly innovating and using the latest technologies and the smartest methodologies to give its clients the clearest understanding of the most important people in the world: their customers. In 2014, GfK’s sales amounted to €1.45 billion. To find out more, visit www.gfk.com.

Wells Fargo & Company
Media
Kathryn Ellis, 1-415-222-3767
kathryn.d.ellis@wellsfargo.com
@KatieEllisWF

 

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U.S. Companies: Projected "hot-spots" for future growth (% mentioned) (Graphic: Business Wire) 1024 x 512 jpg 129 KB
Wells Fargo 2015 International Business Indicator Score (Graphic: Business Wire) 1024 x 512 jpg 119 KB
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