The results of the 2015 International Business Indicator survey reveal that while U.S. companies are still relatively bullish on their global opportunities, expectations have cooled in 2015 for short-term international activity. More than 250 executives at middle-market and larger U.S. companies engaged in international business participated in this year’s Indicator survey.

The International Business Indicator tracks the strength and direction of U.S. companies’ international business outlook and activity over time. The survey also examines where companies are planning to expand and the issues that affect their international business plans. View the materials below to learn more about the perceptions and global plans of U.S. companies.

International Business Indicator key findings video 

Sanjiv Sanghvi, head of Wells Fargo Global Banking, provides a high-level overview of the Indicator’s key findings.


Results are in for the 2015

Wells Fargo International

Business Indicator

revealing that the

international outlook has

softened for U.S. companies.

The indicator score has dropped

from sixty eight in 2014

to sixty three in this year's


While U.S. companies are still

relatively bullish on

international opportunities,

the drop may reflect their

concern about continued weak

global economic conditions.

Hello, I'm Sanjiv Sanghvi.

2015 marks the second year of

our International Business

Indicator survey

of U.S. companies.

The Indicator tracks the

strength and direction of their

international outlook and

activity over time.

Over 250 executives from

mid-size and larger

U.S. companies participated in

this year's survey,

and all of them conduct

business internationally.

Let's take a look at some of

the key findings.

Overall, we see that U.S.

companies' international

business expectations

have cooled this year.

Only a minority of U.S.

companies, 37 percent,

see the global business climate

improving in 2015

as compared with 53 percent

that did in 2014.

As a result fewer companies

than last year expect their

international business activity

to increase over the coming


dropping from 69 percent in

2014 to 54 percent in 2015.

These executives see the

sluggish global economic

environment impacting their

international business in two

key areas.

First, fewer U.S. companies

expect their international

business profits to increase,

and second, fewer still expect

their volume of exports to

increase in 2015.

However, we do see outlooks and

expectations varying

by the size of U.S. companies.

Half of larger U.S. companies

are optimistic

about the international

business climate,

while less than a third of

smaller companies share that

same outlook.

As a result, considerably more

large companies

anticipate increasing their

international business activity

in the next 12 months.

While short-term international

expectations have cooled

in general U.S. companies have

a more confident attitude

towards the global marketplace

over the long run.

Eighty percent of business

executives surveyed

agreed that U.S. companies

should consider

expanding internationally for

long-term growth.

And this view seems to be

reflected in their intentions

with the majority of U.S.

companies looking

to increase their international

business development planning

in 2015.

In terms of where U.S.

companies are looking for

future international expansion,

two-thirds believe that

emerging markets offer the

greatest revenue growth


For 2015, we asked U.S.

business executives

what countries they're watching

as future growth hot spots.

China topped the list

suggesting that slowing growth

there hasn't diminished the


that U.S. companies see in this


U.S. companies also view Mexico

as a future hot spot,

with Brazil, India, and Canada

rounding out the top five.

Here too, we see a difference

between large and small U.S.


Larger companies view Brazil

and India as hot spots.

Smaller companies they see

their growth potential

closer to home with our

neighbors in Canada and Mexico.

China is the exception with

both larger and small

U.S. companies eyeing future

growth prospects there.

These have been just some of

the key findings from the

Wells Fargo 2015 International

Business Indicator.

We hope you find this

information of value

as you develop your global

business plans.

And as you do this talk to

Wells Fargo.

We're ready to help you

strengthen and build your

international business in all

types of market conditions.

Thank you.


Indicator Full Survey Report

Comprehensive survey results, along with the complete, annotated questionnaire, are included in this report (PDF)*.

Indicator Key Findings Report

This two-page report (PDF)* provides a summary of the key survey highlights.

Indicator Infographic

This infographic (PDF)* provides a quick, visual summary of results.

Special Economic Commentary

Wells Fargo Securities Global Economist Jay Bryson provides his expert insights on the Indicator findings in this Special Commentary report (PDF)*.

About the 2015 survey

On behalf of Wells Fargo, global research firm GfK conducted 253 telephone interviews between December 12, 2014 and February 6, 2015, with executives at U.S. companies that conduct business internationally and have $50 million or more in annual revenue. Additionally, participants had to be at the associate vice president and director level or above, with either direct decision-making or some influence over the company’s international business plans and/or strategies. The margin of error on the total is 7.9% with a 95% confidence level. 

The International Business Indicator score represents the average of responses for two questions regarding the level of importance and activity that U.S. companies expect from their international business in the next 12 months. The Indicator score ranges from zero to 100, where 100 indicates an absolute positive outlook, 50 indicates a neutral outlook, and zero indicates an absolute negative outlook.

2014 Results