Davos 2022: Here's what CEOs are saying about a potential recession

·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·3 min read

DAVOS, Switzerland — Chat up a few CEOs at this week's World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, and one thing becomes clear: Titans of the C-suite are growing worried about a recession.

Many won't utter the word on the record, but the tone in their voices when discussing medium-term growth in sales and profits is markedly different than just three months ago.

The stock market is increasingly pricing in higher odds of a recession, and bad news from company's reporting earnings is hitting related companies hard.

Has there been an overshoot to the downside on valuations on recession fears? Perhaps.

In any case, the CEOs we've chatted up agree a revaluing of the markets was inevitable.

Here's what several CEOs told Yahoo Finance Live about the dreaded "R" word on the sidelines of WEF:

Cloudflare CEO Matt Prince

"Cloudflare is 12 years old, and we haven't had a true recession in the period we have existed as a company. We are probably long overdue for that. The first quarter of 2022 across the entire tech sector was one of the toughest quarters any businesses have seen since the first quarter of 2020 at the start of the pandemic. I don't think we are going to bounce back as fast as we did with COVID. For us, that is actually not a bad thing as we provide our services in our very economical way. We tend to save businesses money, cut other vendors and simplify things."

Prince later added: "Across the world, budgets are getting tighter."

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger

"I think there is a slowing. People are fighting inflation. There is going to be a tightening of monetary policy as well. I think these are all natural. Clearly we have Shanghai port shutdowns. Europe is trying to figure out what it looks like with the Ukraine situation. So I think there is a general softening and general tightening of policy. We think that is probably a couple of quarters in front of us."

Shadows of participants of the World Economic Forum (WEF) are seen on a wall in Davos January 27, 2011. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Shadows of participants of the World Economic Forum (WEF) are seen on a wall in Davos January 27, 2011. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri

“I relate to the IT side of this. And I have to say demand continues to be strong around connectivity, around the AI, machine learning, about the fact that customers want to consume as a service. Our strategy is very well aligned for that."

Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig

"I think all of us would admit that we don't know what it [the current macro environment] feels like. We had the pandemic. Then we had back to work. Then we didn't have back to work. Then we have inflation and wage inflation. Then we have a war. I think anybody that is trying to predict things based on old barometers will get it wrong. I do think the consumer is going to slow down, but I just don't know by how much or for how long. I do think we are experiencing it already. As costs go up for businesses and consumers, they will have to spend less. I just hope it doesn't reach stagflation."

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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