WRAPUP 2-U.S. recovery begins, but corporate America wary
* 3M CEO says recovery will be 'patchy and slow'
* CEOs still plan to cut jobs-Business Roundtable survey
* Businesses expect revenue growth in 2010-ISM (New throughout)
By James Kelleher and Scott Malone
CHICAGO/BOSTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The U.S. economy is recovering from its worst downturn since the Great Depression, but corporate America remains far from confident about its prospects for next year.
Two major U.S. industry groups reported data on Tuesday showing that companies expect revenue to start to rise again next year after a brutal 2009, though top officials at two blue-chip companies offered guarded 2010 forecasts.
In a sign that average Americans may not feel a pickup in demand any time soon, the Business Roundtable reported that more U.S. chief executives plan to cut jobs over the next six months than add them.
"2009 was a very interesting year. But 2010 is going to be even more interesting," George Buckley, CEO of diversified U.S. manufacturer 3M Co (MMM.N), told analysts.
The maker of products ranging from Post-It notes to films for flat-panel televisions told Wall Street it expects to earn $4.85 to $5 per share next year, a range that at its midpoint is modestly lower than the $4.94 analysts had forecast, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. [ID:nN08192515]
He said tighter credit conditions and other headwinds would make economic recovery "patchy and slow."
CEOS SEE GROWTH, WARY OF SPENDING
The Business Roundtable said its CEO Economic Outlook index snapped back into positive territory, with a reading of 71.5, up from 44.9 in the third quarter and the highest reading since the third quarter of 2008. [ID:nN08202853]
But the survey found top executives cautious on making investments in their businesses and even more cautious on hiring workers -- bad signs for an economy that has relied on government stimulus for its rebound so far and desperately needs private industry to step up to the plate.
The Business Roundtable found 31 percent of the CEOs it surveyed planned to cut additional jobs over the next six months while only 40 percent said they expected to boost their capital spending over that time frame.
"While there are signs of improvement, notably in sales and capital expenditures, it still will take time for these gains to translate into more jobs and higher employment," said Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of U.S. telecommunications provider Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), who serves as chairman of the Roundtable.
The survey results and Buckley's comments came just one day after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned the U.S. economy's recovery remained fragile and unemployment may be high for some time.
For a graphic on the U.S. employment outlook click link.reuters.com/hup55g
Separately, the Institute for Supply Management said its panel of purchasing and supply executives expects a 5.7 percent net increase in overall revenue for 2010, compared with a 10.7 percent decrease reported for 2009. [ID:nN08140165]
LIFTING THE VEIL ON 2010
3M led off a list of a half dozen major U.S. industrials that are due to spell out their 2010 forecasts over the next two weeks.
General Electric Co (GE.N), the largest U.S. conglomerate, told investors that it expects profit to remain flat at its hefty GE Capital finance arm next year, as losses and impairments on loans peak. [ID:nN08160594]
That was a first look at the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company's targets for next year. While GE has stopped providing per-share profit forecasts, the world's largest maker of jet engines and electricity-producing turbines plans to spell out its overall view on 2010 at a meeting in New York next week.
Farm equipment maker AGCO Corp (AGCO.N) said it expects 2010 profit to be unchanged to slightly higher next year on roughly flat revenue. [ID:nN08209565]
Manufacturing heavyweights including United Technologies Corp (UTX.N), Illinois Tool Works Inc (ITW.N), Honeywell International Inc (HON.N) and Danaher Corp (DHR.N) are due to set out their 2010 targets over the next two weeks. (Additional reporting by Chris Reese and Burton Frierson in New York; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Steve Orlofsky)
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