When all third-quarter earnings are announced, they should rise 5.2% from a year ago, according to 306 CFOs surveyed in the Financial Executives Institute/Duke University Corporate Outlook Survey.
CFOs at companies with at least $1 billion in annual sales said third-quarter profits would have been 7.2% without the financial crises in Eastern Asia and Russia.
The survey also predicted if consumer spending drops as much as 10% in the coming year, earnings growth will halt. The average company would then have 1.6% earnings growth, with smaller companies at near zero.
CFOs surveyed also forecast stock prices will decline this year, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing around 7600 on Dec. 31. Executives in the south central United States are most optimistic, expecting a close of nearly 8000. The majority of respondents - 59% - predict a moderately negative stock market reaction if President Clinton is forced to resign.