CEOs Talk About Their 2015 Outlook

As they head into 2015, U.S.-based CEOs wonder if the economic glass is half-empty or half-full both in the United States and around the world. And for the first time since the Great Recession, their collective expectations for the New Year tip toward steady growth and a smoother path for doing business despite lingering questions about the strength of economic recovery.

Bob-PaulUnlocking Capital for Growth
Bob Paul, CEO, Compuware

We are splitting off the slow-growing mainframe-services part of our business and going private through acquisition by an equity company for $2.5 billion. We’re now the market leader in applications-performance management, one of the hottest IT categories out there.

Due to the level of focus on going private and the work we’ve done on innovation for future growth, I’d be very disappointed if all we did is clear the 20-percent-sales-growth milestone next year.

I think it’ll be steady-as-she-goes for the economy. Mid- to low-single-digit growth is our expectation for next year. It’s all about how capital is used. It is available for organizations to invest and grow, and what is the rate of innovation that drives new opportunities and value for business?

What concerns me is [that] expectations around shareholders of public companies are changing, whereby investors want more short-term use of capital—meaning, are you going to provide a dividend or be doing share repurchasing to artificially prop up the share price? In our case, it’s been more than $100 million a year in dividends. That’s capital that isn’t being put to use for innovation.

Based in Detroit, this IT provider focuses on helping companies optimize applications and had fiscal-2014 revenues of $721 million.

Sally-SmithBeware of Undertow Issues
Sally Smith, CEO, Buffalo Wild Wings

We have a very robust three-year strategy, as well as for the longer term. We’ll continue to open about 90 to 100 new restaurants a year from 2014 through next year, and we’ve invested in some new fast-casual, small brands: PizzaRev and Rusty Taco, which are great concepts. Fast-casual, in general, will continue to grow and do so against traditional casual-dining restaurants.

One concern is growing government policies and regulations coming at a greater pace, especially the Affordable Care Act. It’s a challenge because more than 40 percent of our employees are under age 21 and aren’t even looking for health-care coverage. But we’ve always provided health care and we’ll figure out a way to do it.

The minimum-wage issue is big, too. If that brought additional pressures on our wages, we would look for different ways to automate. We’d probably hire more experienced people and I’m afraid [that possibility might] price high-school students out of jobs.

The economy will remain at about its current pace—not robust growth in 2015. Consumer demand is coming back, but every economic report seems to send a mixed message. The Minneapolis-based company operates 1,030 casual-dining restaurants and had fiscal-2014 revenues of $1.3 billion.

John-VeihmeyerCEOs Need Transformation Help
John Veihmeyer, Global Chairman, KPMG

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