NEW YORK — A new survey of 400 U.S. chief executive officers has found that 77% are “very confident” in the growth prospects of their companies over the next three years, up from 46% a year ago. The finding was part of “Growing Pains: 2018 U.S. CEO Outlook,” a report published by KPMG.

Despite the confidence shown by c.e.o.s in their growth prospects, only moderate growth is predicted for U.S. companies. According to KPMG, 51% of U.S. c.e.o.s said they expect top-line revenue growth to be less than 2% over the next three years, while 49% expect growth to be in the 2% to 5% range.

Digging deeper into growth strategies, the KPMG survey found that among U.S. c.e.o.s, 23% are pursuing strategic alliances, 23% mergers and acquisitions, 22% organic growth, 18% joint ventures and 15% outsourcing.

“Riding the tailwinds of tax reform and regulatory relief, U.S. c.e.o.s are primed to aggressively pursue growth through M.&A. activity, overseas expansion, and investments in innovation and collaboration,” said Lynne Doughtie, chairman and c.e.o. of KPMG U.S. “They are highly confident in their business prospects and their ability to both disrupt the sectors in which they operate and handle risks head-on.”

Growth strategies chartTo achieve their growth strategies c.e.o.s are planning a number of actions relating to innovation and collaboration, the survey said. Potential actions include setting up accelerator or incubator programs for start-up firms (46%), making products and services available via online providers (43%) and partnering with third-party providers (42%).

Asked to identify the greatest threats to their organization’s growth, the c.e.o.s surveyed said cybersecurity risk, at 33%, is the top concern. Other threats included emerging/disruptive technology risk (20%), operational risk (14%), environmental/climate change risk (7%), return to territorialism (7%), and regulatory risk (5%).

“Some are still in a mode of implementing foundational elements of their programs, the basic blocking and tackling activities that are required to achieve a base level of security,” said Tony Buffomante, leader for cyber security services at KPMG U.S. “But, we are also seeing a lot more discussions today around longer-term sustainability of cyber risk mitigation versus point security projects.”

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