Slight drops in optimism were noted on other fronts as well: 53.3% of Romanian participants now expect an increase of revenues from sales over the following year, compared to 58.3% in December; 36.7% (versus 50%) consider launching new products or services over the next 12 months.

On the other hand, company expenditure is on the rise, 33.3% participants stating they would increase spending on equipment, IT systems, or new buildings (compared to 25%, in the previous edition).

“Although results might indicate a grim picture of the Romanian business environment, I would interpret them as a sign of greater caution among executives,” said George Mucibabici (photo), Chairman of Deloitte Romania.

He stressed that Romanian participants had shown the same optimism as in December (66% said that the average number of days of payment from the company’s debtors and outstanding dues are definitely or fairly safe). Also, spending on capital goods is expected to increase.

“This indicates that companies are taking a pragmatic approach to every-day businesses, focusing to keep operations going while surviving and exiting the current economic downturn”, Mucibabici added.

Companies also indicate that further governmental support is needed, as the regulatory perception is worsening (the number of positive answers dropped from 12.5% to 6.7%).”

Confidence in Romania has dropped in the first quarter, compared to the fourth quarter 2009. The trend contradicts a small, yet definite increase in the overall optimism, as the survey found executives in Central Europe slowly but surely becoming more bullish about their companies’ prospects for the short term.