Medical device and in vitro diagnostics manufacturers are increasingly optimistic about their prospects in 2010, according to new survey of industry executives.
The survey of 1,141 industry managers conducted by the Emergo Group, an Austin, Texas-based consulting firm, found that more than two of three believe the overall business environment will be better for the industry next year compared with 2009. A majority also said they expect to hire additional workers during 2010 and that many were looking to Brazil and Asian countries to help fuel sales gains over the next 12 months.
The upbeat outlook for 2010 marks a significant improvement over year-ago attitudes, but perhaps not surprisingly, few respondents were yet ready to predict blow-out results. For example, 70.6 percent of company officials polled recently said they were “very positive” or “somewhat positive” about 2010. That easily tops the 56.3 percent of respondents giving confident responses to a similar question last year although the share of “very positive” answers actually fell in the latest survey, sliding 3.3 percent to 17.5 percent.
“There’s just a lot less uncertainty about the economy than there was a year ago,” said Chris Schorre, Emergo’s director of global marketing. “A year ago we had this whole financial situation that was just a big problem. People were worried the whole economy was going to crater.”
The survey, conducted between Nov. 1-15, also found that just over half of the respondents, 51.6 percent, expect their companies to expand their workforce next year while only 10.3 percent were anticipating layoffs. That compares with 48.8 percent of the executives predicting new hires and 12.3 percent expecting job cuts at their firms in the previous survey.
Schorre also said the latest survey results reflect ongoing interest in export activity among North American manufacturers, with 28.8 percent of the respondents saying their companies were planning to offer products for the first time ever in Brazil next year. Another 24.2 percent were planning their initial forays into China.
“One of the the most interesting things is how many people are interested in Brazil,” Schorre told MassDevice. “There was quite a shift in the currency exchange rates in Brazil-U.S., Brazil-Europe and Brazil-China. That makes products going from those countries into Brazil much more valuable. The same could be said with American companies exporting to Europe, because the dollar is so weak right now.”
Emergo primarily assists med-techs and IVDs navigate regulatory issues, and as such, received roughly half of the answers to its current survey from regulatory, clinical and quality-assurance officers at those firms. Sales and marketing staff made up another 15.1 percent of the respondents while chief executive officers and company presidents provided 14.1 percent of the answers. Those levels remained relatively consistent with the late 2008 survey with a slight increase this year in the number of participants inside the corner offices.
The non-scientific survey also tilts strongly toward attitudes among officials at smaller firms, with 49.6 percent of respondents reporting their companies have 50 or fewer employees. Device companies comprised about two-thirds of the survey universe.