Optimism Wanes in 1Q MDM-Baird Survey

Despite disruptions, respondents expect to increase investment spending in 2015.

Excluding acquisitions, first-quarter sales growth was slower than expected, according to respondents to the first-quarter 2015 MDM-Baird Distribution Survey. On average, overall growth was 2.7 percent, down from 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter and a full percentage point below what respondents forecast in the last survey.

A bevy of disruptions – from labor disputes to weather – contributed to the sales growth decline and lowered optimism for the rest of the year. 

Three sectors reported revenue declines in the first quarter, led by PVF – water & sewer (down 1 percent). Mechanical/power transmission and building materials declined 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

In a special question for the first-quarter survey, respondents were asked how their investment plans had changed for 2015. More than half – 56 percent – said plans have increased, while 35 percent said they remain flat. Only 9 percent decreased their investment plans.

In contrast, survey respondents said that half of their customers' investment plans appear to be flat, while 38 percent have increased spending plans. Only 12 percent see customers decreasing their investment spending plans.

Many thanks to those who participated in this quarter’s survey!

The quarterly survey with Robert W. Baird & Co. included about 500 respondents in distribution (70 percent of respondents) and manufacturing in diverse sectors. The survey's goal is to gauge business trends and the outlook for the industry.

Read more about the results of the first-quarter 2015 survey, including results by sub-sector, in the April 25, 2015, issue of MDM Premium.

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