As their companies shift from recovery to growth, chief financial officers are becoming increasingly concerned about the external and internal factors through could threaten their progress.

Based on a survey in the second quarter of CFOs from some of the largest companies in North America, the Deloitte survey found that 40% are more optimistic about the prospects for their own company, down from 62% in the first quarter. Moreover, the percent of respondents who said they are less optimistic doubled to 32%, up from 16%.

Whereas past pessimism was largely driven by the macro-business environment, in the second quarter, CFOs are now more worried about internal concerns, specifically their capital investments.

“It is fair to say that delivering growth is a lot harder than cost-cutting in this environment,” said Sanford Cockrell II, national managing partner of the CFO program at Deloitte. “In addition to the continued regulatory overhand and economic uncertainty, the very real possibility of internal missteps is making CFOs understandably nervous and leading them to invest cautiously and formulate contingency plans.”

Nonetheless, CFOs do expect year-over-year revenue growth, but at a slightly slower pace (7.1%) than in the first quarter (8.2%). Positive earnings growth came in at an average of 14%, up fro m12.6% in the first quarter.

On average, CFOs expect their companies to increase capital spending by 10.7%, down from 11.8% last quarter.

Finally, 64% of CFOs expect their company to hire this year, though not at a brisk pace.
“CFOs foresee moderate growth, but rising volatility in input prices, government policy and economic trends are making them wary of major investments,” said Greg Dickinson, head of the Deloitte “CFO Signals” survey.