Execs at ABM meeting optimistic about 2004

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Chicago--B-to-b executives and publishers attending American Business Media’s annual Top Management Meeting Tuesday consistently described their outlook for 2004 as “cautiously optimistic.”

Most of these executives acknowledged they had felt the same way looking ahead to 2002 and 2003, two difficult years for the b-to-b media industry. But with upbeat macroeconomic news--ranging from rising corporate profits to predictions of increases in capital spending--the optimism may finally be warranted.

Gordon Hughes, president-CEO of ABM, predicted revenue increases of 2% to 4% at business media companies in the coming year.

George Hundley, CEO of Northstar Travel Media, spoke for many executives when he said, “I’m looking forward to getting back to an operating environment that’s closer to normal.” He said he expected modest growth of about 3% to 4% in the coming year.

It must be noted, however, that the major technology companies were not represented at the meeting because their executives were attending Comdex in Las Vegas this week.

At the dinner that ended Tuesday’s session, Robert Garrett, president of media investment bank AdMedia Partners, summed up the mood at the meeting by saying, “You could smell the optimism in the room.”

--Sean Callahan

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