Emerging Growth

By Reuters -  |  Posted 2008-05-23 Print this article Print

Executives say they have to be prepared for any additional economic downturn as pressures on consumer and business spending fluctuate.


Hope -- and success so far -- for many companies is based on smaller economies that are increasingly investing at home.

U.S. companies with wide international exposure like International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) have benefited from stronger economies and a weak dollar. Big Blue says that infrastructure projects in the developing world are key.

"If I were in a business model where I needed double-digit growth out of the G7 to drive my performance, I would be in a cold sweat," said IBM Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge, referring to the Group of Seven nations.

But Loughridge said an economic tremor in such big, advanced economies would not necessarily be felt by emerging ones. "I personally see less kind of linkage, dependency between the established markets and the high-growth markets," he argued.

Indeed, telecoms company Telstra Corp Ltd (TLS.AX: Quote, Profile, Research) said the Australian economy was booming. "They can't hire enough people," Chief Executive Sol Trujillo said.

In addition, many technology executives cling firmly to the belief that their products are must-haves -- whether they are cell phones that are kept when home phones are canceled, software to make vast computer "server farms" handle more work with less energy, or services to fend off vicious new attacks from hackers who are trying to steal money rather than just make trouble.

"We've seen no slowdown economically in IT (information technology) spending related to security. It's been a nice opportunity," said Dave Dewalt, chief executive of McAfee Inc (MFE.N: Quote, Profile, Research). "Am I nervous? Do I read the headlines, too? Yes."

(Additional reporting by Kirby Chien in Tokyo and Tova Cohen and Georgina Prodhan in Paris)


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