Amanda Lang: Time to slay the zombies
Canada may have a zombie problem.
According to a new Deloitte study released Tuesday, 16 per cent of companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange are what the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development describes as “zombie” companies: Mature businesses that survive despite the fact that “earnings are [insufficient] to cover the interest payments on their debts.”
That number is 60 per cent higher than the global average of 10 per cent, according to Deloitte.
“Attitudes and behaviours that made companies successful in the past will not be the best or most reliable predictors for success in the future,” Duncan Sinclair, chair of Deloitte Canada and Chile, said in the study.
“Perhaps even more concerning is that, while 55 per cent of Canadian companies believe that they’re positioned for lasting success, our analysis found that few in fact are.”
Approximately 44 per cent of firms that are 10 years or older recorded stagnant or negative three-year revenue growth rates between 2009 and 2016, the Deloitte report found.
The report also raised red flags over a lack of long-term investing by Canadian businesses. Forty-one per cent of the Canadian companies that participated in the survey reported they are not investing in products and services a year or more away from coming to market.
“We are in the midst of a technological revolution,” Rogers Communications Inc. CEO Joe Natale is quoted as saying in Deloitte’s report. “To grow and thrive, it is critical that organizations invest equally in emerging technologies that will enhance the lives of their customers, and in their people who will lead and drive the organization.”
The report comes amid a chorus of criticism from some of the nation’s business and political leaders over Canada’s competitiveness. The CEOs of Suncor and CIBC both questioned Canada’s ability to lure foreign investment last week, while Ontario’s ministers of finance and economic development penned a letter to their federal counterparts urging “bold action” from federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau in his fall economic update.
Deloitte’s study was based on the “future-focused attitudes and practices” of more than 700 Canadian businesses.