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Rising revenue on horizon for firms in ‘10

Crain's New York Business – November 21, 2010

For New York area businesses, 2010 might be remembered as “The Year of Living Nervously.”

Sure, fears of another Great Depression were not borne out, but the economic recovery has been tepid and uneven. Consumers remain jittery. And worries of a “double dip” remain widespread.

There's good news, however. In the latest Crain's survey, two-thirds of business owners in the rankings of the region's largest privately held companies forecast rising revenues this year, and only about 20% estimate that sales will fall. That's a big improvement over 2009, when only 30% thought sales would rise, 37% projected that they would fall and 6% predicted flat sales. (The remainder refused to provide any guess regarding 2009 sales, probably because internal projections showed awful results.)

Companies that work with small and midsize businesses report a sense of tempered optimism.

“We're seeing increased confidence. More [small business owners] are feeling better that they'll see an improvement in sales,” Ken Chenault, chief executive of American Express Co., said earlier this month at a public forum.

Still, he noted, confidence in the overall economy remains fragile. According to a study released by AmEx last month, the number of small business owners who have a positive outlook has declined to 45%, down from 51% in the spring and 55% last fall.

Businesses on Crain's list that specialize in commodities or transportation posted some of the strongest performance this year. That's partly because of their access to emerging markets, which have been quicker to rebound from the global slowdown.

Transammonia Inc., a big shipper of fertilizer, oil and other commodities, is forecasting a 45.8% jump in 2010 revenue, for example. Central National-Gottesman Inc., a big player in pulp and paper sales, projects a 25.9% increase. Blue Tee Corp., a leading steel and scrap distributor, sees a 39.4% rise.

B2B companies that help other businesses operate more efficiently have also prospered: TransPerfect, a global provider of language translation and business services, predicts a 12.9% gain for this year.

It's a vastly different story for businesses that market goods or services to consumers, or that specialize in real estate or construction. Many will be lucky to eke out a single-digit gain in 2010.

#79 – TransPerfect

3 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10016
(212) 689-5555

Liz Elting
President, chief executive

2010 Projected Revenues: $250.0 million