Growth Strategies

Willingness to Spend Cash ‘Tempered’

Finance executives want to deploy cash, but they are becoming less inclined to lower their cash cushions.
Katie Kuehner-HebertApril 27, 2015
Willingness to Spend Cash ‘Tempered’

Businesses’ willingness to deploy cash declined in the latest survey by the Association For Financial Professionals.

The AFP’s April 2015 Corporate Cash Indicators® , released Monday, shows that on balance, more financial executives plan to deplete their cash holdings in the second quarter. Twenty-six percent of organizations anticipate expanding cash and short-term investment balances over the next three months, the survey found, while 27% plan to reduce these balances. But in January, the percentage difference was -14, suggesting finance executives will be a little less freer with their cash expeditures this quarter.

The AFP subtracts the percentage of respondents who expect a decrease in cash holdings from those that expect an increase.

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“As the CCI suggests, we see clients continuing to exhibit an interest in spending cash when the opportunity presents itself,” Pasquale Nuzzo, senior vice president for Capital One Bank’s treasury management group, said in a press release. “That eagerness is tempered, however, by some of today’s economic realities, and market uncertainty may continue to affect companies’ cash use in the near future.”

The AFP survey, underwritten by Capital One Bank, also measures actual changes in U.S. corporate cash holdings quarter-to-quarter and year-over-year, as well as the expected change in short-term investment and cash accumulation in the coming quarter.

In the April survey, the AFP found that companies built their corporate cash balances in the first quarter at a slower pace than during the fourth quarter of 2014. The quarter-over-quarter index declined by eight points from the January 2015 survey to a reading of +5. The year-over-year indicator also declined by three points, to +6.

The AFP survey also found that finance executives became a little aggressive with their short-term cash investments last quarter. The indicator for short-term investment aggressiveness lost two points to a reading of +3. (To get the reading, the AFP subtracts the percentage of respondents who indicate “more conservative” from the percentage that indicate “more aggressive” cash investment strategies.)

As to cash holdings, for the second quarter in a row, companies’ actual behavior did not correspond to their expectations at the start of the quarter, according to the results. In other words, executives on balance said their holdings would decrease but they increased instead.

“Treasury and finance professionals are telling us loud and clear that their organizations are ready to unleash their cash,” AFP president and chief executive Jim Kaitz said. “However, they need an economic or monetary trigger to do so.”