MILWAUKEE, Dec. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Investment in industrials is expected to remain a focus despite continued headwinds stemming from weaker commodities and lower export activity according to a survey released today by Baird, an employee-owned international financial services firm and one of the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For®. Nearly half (46 percent) of investors plan to increase their investment in industrials in 2016, with another 45 percent reporting they will allocate an unchanged or similar amount in the year ahead. Only 9 percent of respondents said they were planning to scale back.
The survey polled institutional and private equity investors, portfolio managers, analysts and industrial executives at the 45th annual Baird Industrial Conference held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. The poll was designed to identify what industrial professionals believe are the key drivers and threats to profitable growth in the industry in the year ahead. The majority (52 percent) of survey respondents reported being most optimistic about opportunities within North America followed by Western Europe (21 percent). When looking at which end market represents the strongest opportunities for growth, those polled cited residential and commercial construction (35 percent) and aerospace and defense (31 percent) as the most promising in the year ahead.
"While it is encouraging to see optimism for a potential rise in investments to the industrials market in 2016, our strategy is to maintain a cautiously optimistic view," said Jon Langenfeld, CFA, Head of Global Equities at Baird. "Assessing and managing future threats will continue to be critically important for the industry to realize its growth objectives."
According to the survey, factory automation continues to be an area of interest and curiosity for the industrial market. In fact, 38 percent of respondents believe innovations related to factory automation will have the most significant impact on the industrial market over the next five years. This is followed by big data analytics (21 percent), data security (17 percent), autonomous vehicles (13 percent) and additive manufacturing (11 percent).
Taking a more immediate look at the 12 months ahead, lack of growth in China ranked as the top threat to returns in the industrial sector for 2016 (39 percent). Other concerns included interest rate hikes (28 percent), commodity price shock (16 percent), geopolitical risks (14 percent) and large-scale cyber attacks (3 percent).
"It's understandable that respondents reported having some apprehension about China given the economic concerns within the emerging markets that have impacted the global investment markets," Langenfeld said. "As long as the Chinese government remains committed to cultivating sustainable growth, we expect to see investment opportunities in companies directly and indirectly operating in this market."
Baird is an employee-owned, international wealth management, capital markets, private equity and asset management firm with offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. Established in 1919, Baird has more than 3,200 associates serving the needs of individual, corporate, institutional and municipal clients. Baird has $152 billion in client assets. Committed to being a great place to work, Baird ranked No. 5 on FORTUNE's 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2015 – its 12th consecutive year on the list. Baird's principal operating subsidiaries are Robert W. Baird & Co. in the United States and Robert W. Baird Group Ltd. in Europe. Baird also has an operating subsidiary in Asia supporting Baird's investment banking and private equity operations. Robert W. Baird Limited and Baird Capital Partners Europe Limited are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. For more information, please visit Baird's Web site at www.rwbaird.com.