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Execs' outlook for 2012: "Up slightly" is the new "Up"

January 3, 2012: 10:00 AM ET

Fortune conference attendees expect to grow their revenues in 2012, but they are less optimistic about growing their headcount.

By Stephanie Mehta, executive editor

FORTUNE -- A majority of executives and entrepreneurs surveyed by Fortune predict their companies' revenues will increase in 2012, and more than half of those who expect growth anticipate that the biggest gains will come in the U.S. and Canada.

Some 78% of respondents say they believe their corporations will see revenue growth in 2012, and 73% believe their overall industry will see revenue rise this year. Fortune at the end of December invited attendees of its major live events -- Brainstorm Green, Brainstorm Tech, and the Fortune MPW Summit -- and those who participated via an online virtual conference -- to respond to questions about their outlook for 2012.

Among those who expect revenue gains in the new year, the majority -- 51% -- say the U.S./Canada is the region that will deliver the fastest growth. More than a fifth of respondents say Asia will be their fastest-growing region. Only 4% cited Europe as a fast-growth territory.

Despite their general optimism about revenue growth, the survey respondents are somewhat more cautious when it comes to job creation. Some 46% say their companies will add employees, while another 48% expect employment to hold steady at their firms. Only 6% believe their corporations will cut jobs.

Nearly 7 in 10 respondents say they think government intervention is necessary to jump-start job creation: Nearly half say public-private training partnerships are needed, and more than a third are looking for tax credits and 22% think that government-backed employee training programs will help spur job creation.

Who would preside over such programs? Mitt Romney is considered the most likely to win the Republican presidential nomination (59% of respondents gave him the nod) but the majority of respondents, 63%, predict President Barack Obama will hold on to the White House.

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