The automotive industry involves the manufacturing of vehicles and parts for commercial and individual purposes. As the economy rebounded after 2010, consumer sentiment rose and interest rates at historically low levels combined with extra incentives increased demand. Prospects ahead are encouraging for the industry and profit is expected to trend upward over the next five years, as industry operators benefit from rising vehicle sales and the cost-cutting measures enacted during the downturn. Generally, automakers are focusing on the production of smaller, lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles to become more competitive in the wake of rising regulations and volatile fuel prices. Shifting consumer preferences, along with a general recovery in the demand for vehicles, is expected to lift industry revenue over the next five years. Additionally, re-shoring activity is anticipated to become prominent as more flexible labor agreements encourage industry operators to expand their operations domestically.
The construction industry has strongly rebounded over recent years. Tight credit markets, lower consumer spending, and high unemployment slowed growth until recently as demand for new commercial and residential space has been low. Commercial construction typically lags behind the overall economy by one to two years due to the length of contracts. As economic activity has increased contractors’ backlogs have filled and demand for new construction has picked up. As a result, many construction outfits are now able to raise prices slowly leading to increasing profit margins. Road and highway construction is also expected to increase due to the need to repair, expand and rebuild existing infrastructure. Together with growing congestion caused by urban sprawl, these factors will force authorities to spend. Demand is expected to remain strong over the coming years in all areas as the result of decreasing office vacancy rates, increased infrastructure spending and greater new home starts.
The healthcare industry is comprised of many players; however it is driven by primary care doctors and hospitals. The aging population has increased demand for healthcare services in recent years with no expectation of this trend easing. Chronic illnesses are disproportionately prevalent in older adults and rising significantly due to demographic shifts. Additionally, the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act now requires all individuals to obtain healthcare coverage. As a result of rising coverage, demand for primary care has grown substantially and despite growth, the number of primary care doctors has not expanded enough to keep pace with demand. The Hospital segment is consolidating and organizations are seeking the most skilled and specialized healthcare professionals. Consequently, labor costs in this industry are high and hospitals are increasingly facing nurse and physician shortages. Home healthcare and remote diagnosis of routine minor illnesses are becoming more common.
The restaurants industry has grown over the past several years thanks to lessening unemployment and improved consumer confidence resulting in greater spending on sit-down meals. While profit margins remains slim costs have been kept under control resulting in growth through volume. Full-service chain restaurants operate in competition against independent restaurants, fast food chains and other establishments offering meals to eat in or take away. The trend over recent years has been greater convenience at a lower cost which has hurt sit-down meals restaurants the most. In response, full-service restaurants have invested in technology to cut costs and redesigned layouts. Fast casual restaurants that serve high-quality food at reasonable prices will keep increasing competitive pressures and force profit margins to remain slim into the foreseeable future.
Finance and Banking
The finance and banking industries serve to facilitate personal and corporate investment and financing activities. Commercial banks are experiencing low revenues due to historically low interest rates. Further, non-interest income remains volatile due to weakness in private business start-ups and expansions as well as a sluggish residential real estate economy. One bright aspect has been mortgage re-financing which has seen robust activity as people move out of higher interest mortgages. The industry is experiencing significant consolidation recently and the robust performance of capital markets over the past several years has also boosted profit margins. Further, the number of credit-worthy borrows has increased. Looking to the future, government regulation and technology-driven competition are expected to dramatically change the business model that commercial banks use. Revenue will become less volatile and big banks will grow deposits at a faster rate than smaller savings institutions, since their reputations were severely damaged thanks to the significant number of bank failures that occurred during the economic downturn.
The Technology industry has grown dynamically over recent years as businesses and consumers increase their purchases of software, computers and mobile devices. Additionally, a side-effect of web-based solutions and mobile devices has been an explosion of sensitive, private data requiring complex security software products. The near-term is expected to center around software increasingly entering day-to-day activities as well as the rise of big data predictive analytics and artificial intelligence. Phones and mobile computing devices are providing new platforms on which software publishers can compete. Additionally, the rapid move toward cloud computing is opening a wider array of software possibilities as phones and tablets are no longer limited by low storage capacity. Finally, demand for security software to protect data is expected to rise considerably as the technology industry takes technologies continue to enter everyday life more and more.