1:04 p.m. CST, February 8, 2011
BOSTON (Reuters) – Strong demand from big emerging markets, particularly China and India, is boosting U.S. manufacturers’ prospects for 2011, a pair of top executives said on Tuesday.
But not everyone in the sector regards the recovery from the worst recession the world has seen in living memory as a sure thing.
“We feel very good about the economy,” said Greg Hayes, chief financial officer at United Technologies Corp . “There’s good news, but we’re not out of the woods yet … It’s going to be a gradual, slow, uneven recovery.”
A top General Electric Co executive sounded a more confident note on the economy in a presentation to investors.
“We feel really good about emerging market demand, really across all of our infrastructure businesses,” said John Rice, a GE vice chairman who oversees the company’s international operations. “We’re starting to see some signs that the economy is rebounding a little bit.”
Rice, recently transferred to Hong Kong and charged with accelerating GE’s growth outside the United States, said the company is changing the way it approaches developing markets. Building on a recent successful test in India, the largest U.S. conglomerate plans to move more higher-ranking executives into emerging markets to speed its decision-making, rather than requiring local executives to consult with headquarters in Fairfield, Connecticut.
The company has also begun designing more equipment, such as medical devices, with emerging-market customers in mind, rather than trying to retool machines made for rich customers.
“You can’t do it by downsizing … what you have,” Rice said. “You have to start with a clean piece of paper.”
Hartford, Connecticut-based United Tech is counting on growth in emerging markets — where it generated more than 20 percent of its revenues for the first time in its history last year — to drive 2011 sales growth, Hayes said.
The world’s largest maker of air conditioners and elevators expects to grow its Indian revenue to $2.5 billion by 2015, up from $500 million last year, Hayes told the same investor conference.
(Reporting by Scott Malone, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)