S&P key themes from 3Q 2011 earnings conference calls

(1) Uncertainty regarding the US economic outlook, regulatory environment, and global political landscape erodes management confidence
(2) Companies respond to uncertain outlook by cutting costs, postponing hiring, delaying investments, reducing inventories, and strengthening balance sheets
(3) Profit margins stand at peak levels but while some firms are raising prices and expect margins will rise others expect margins will fall given the inability to pass through higher input costs
(4) Emerging markets continue to drive growth despite weakness in developed markets

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