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Firms Shopping for Growth

Photonics Spectra
Jun 2001
Stephanie A. Weiss

One in three fast-growth CEOs has acquired at least one company, and two in five say they expect to make acquisitions in the near future, according to a recent Trendsetter Barometer study from professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC.

The study queried CEOs of 425 product and service companies ranked among the fastest-growing US businesses over the last five years.

The companies of acquisitive CEOs share several characteristics:
  • On average, their revenue growth expectations are 25 percent higher than for their nonacquisitive peers.
  • Most consider the shortage of skilled workers as a potential barrier to growth.
  • They are slightly more likely to be involved in e-business, which they believe will account for a larger portion of their sales.
  • On average, they expect international revenues to account for 20.2 percent of corporate sales over the next 12 months.
  • They are more likely to plan major capital investments, expecting to spend an average of 2.5 times as much on new capital investments this year as their nonacquisitive counterparts.
Common reasons for acquisitions, according to the study: complementary products; new markets or distribution channels; mass for economies of scale; and technology.

Four out of five CEOs reported that their most recent acquisitions were successful, with about half calling them "very successful."

They warn inexperienced CEOs to avoid three universal barriers to acquisition success: incompatibility of top management, failure to adequately study the company being acquired, and misreading the strengths and weaknesses of their own operations.

Details of this study and other Trendsetter research are available at

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