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Rising fuel cost spur companies to cut business travels and embrace greener solutions
Source: BI-ME , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Tue June 28, 2011 4:39 pm

UAE. A global survey of Chief Financial Officers (CFO’s) has revealed that companies are increasingly adopting smarter measures to cope with the problem of rising cost of fuel.

CFOs across Europe, US, and Asia are looking to alternatives like teleconferencing, reducing business travels, using more efficient shipping methods and increasing prices on products and services. These findings are included in the most recent Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey.

Eighty percent of chief financial officers in the U.S. say the high price of oil is negatively affecting their firms, with 61 percent describing the effects as “significant.”  Among European companies, 71 percent of CFOs say they have been negatively affected by high oil prices, with even higher responses in Asia (78 percent) and China (88 percent). 

 “We may be reaching a tipping point on the cost of traditional fuels,” said John Graham, professor of finance at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and director of the survey. “We’re seeing more companies embrace ‘green’ initiatives and position themselves to become less reliant on oil in the future.”

CFOs in the U.S. have already instituted or plan to institute a number of policies to manage higher oil prices: 53 percent say they are increasing telecommuting/ teleconferencing; 51 percent are improving facilities management, including reduced lighting and improvements to Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems; 48 percent are reducing business travel; and 39 percent are turning to more efficient shipping methods such as consolidating shipments.   

Forty-four percent of U.S. CFOs say their companies have already passed-on the fuel price increases to consumers by raising prices, or have made plans to do so.

European CFOs are increasing telecommuting/teleconferencing (60 percent of companies), reducing business travel (49 percent) and raising prices on products and services (44 percent).

In Asia, 72 percent of firms have reduced or plan to reduce business travel, 76 percent are increasing the use of teleconferencing/telecommuting and 73 percent are improving facilities management. Consumers in Asia will likely feel the pinch from higher fuel prices; 58 percent of CFOs say their firms will pass on the increased costs.

“While some companies are hesitant to raise prices due to the relatively weak economy, a substantial number are deciding to add fuel surcharges, meaning customers will have to absorb these increased costs,” said Kate O’Sullivan, deputy editor at CFO Magazine.

Chinese CFOs say their companies are using more efficient production processes (61 percent) and improving facility management (60 percent) to manage high oil prices. Fifty-three percent are using more efficient shipping methods, and 55 percent are covering higher fuel prices by raising prices.

Complete survey details and data tables are available at

To get more insight on the broader findings from the survey, you can listen to further analysis from an interview on Dubai Eye FM's Business Breakfast . 
About the survey:

About the survey: This is the 61st consecutive quarter the Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook survey has been conducted. The survey concluded June 3, 2011, and generated responses from 806 CFOs, including 500 from the U.S., 118 from Europe, 120 from Asia (not including China), and 68 from China.

The survey of European CFOs was conducted jointly with Tilburg University in the Netherlands. Results in this release are for U.S. companies, unless otherwise noted.

The Global Business Outlook Survey polls a wide range of companies (public and private, small and large, many industries, etc.), with the distribution of responding firm characteristics presented in online tables.

The responses are representative of the population of CFOs that are surveyed. Confidence ranges are reported in the online top line and banner tables for most of the numeric variables. A typical confidence range is a little less than one percentage point (e.g., capital spending is expected to increase by 12.1 percent with a 95 percent confidence range of 11.8 percent to 12.5 per cent, which is a 0.7 percent confidence range).

Among the industries represented in the survey are retail/wholesale, mining/construction, manufacturing, transportation/energy, communications/media, technology, service/consulting and banking/finance/insurance.

The average growth rates are weighted by revenues or number of employees; for example, one US$5 billion company affects an average as much as ten US$500-million firms would.

Revenue-weighted mean growth rates are provided for earnings, revenues, capital spending, technology spending and prices of products. Employee-weighted mean growth rates are used for health-care costs, productivity, number of employees and outsourced employment.

The earnings, dividends, share repurchases and cash on balance sheet are for public companies only. Unless noted, all other numbers are for all companies, including private companies.

About Duke Fuqua School of Business

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business is the world’s first legitimately global business school, with study and research locations in China, India, Russia, the UK, the UAE, and North Carolina. Utilizing Duke’s cross-disciplinary intellectual resources, Fuqua aims to produce globally competent and socially conscious business leaders.

For more information about Fuqua’s degree and open enrollment executive education programs, please visit

About CFO Magazine

CFO Magazine and are owned by CFO Publishing. With a rate base of 400,000, CFO is the leading business publication for C-level and senior financial executives. For more information, visit



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