Top management of 36 listed companies are optimistic about their financial positions and profitability in the next six months, a survey has found. Survey author Anthony Kwan Cheuk-chiu, associate professor of economics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said he had been surprised by the degree of short-term optimism that the respondents expressed. A simple five-question survey was sent to the chief executive and chairman of more than 100 listed companies this month, representing an even mix of firms with big, medium and small market capitalisations. Answers were received from 36 enterprises. Half the respondents said their company's present financial position was better now than it was six months ago. When it came to the future, 56 per cent of respondents said they expected their financial position to be better in the next six months. About 36 per cent had a less positive view about the pace of their companies' recovery - saying the conditions would be about the same in six months. Only 6 per cent expected their companies to be in worse shape. The bosses were relatively less positive about their firm's profit levels in six months, with 50 per cent expecting profits to improve, 34 per cent expecting them to remain flat, and 11 per cent expecting a deterioration. However, the chief executives and chairmen surveyed were much more gloomy about the pace of Hong Kong's economic recovery. The majority of respondents said economic conditions at present were about the same (47 per cent) or worse (39 per cent) than six months ago, while only 14 per cent felt they were 'better now'. About 39 per cent expected economic conditions would improve in the next six months, while 36 per cent believed conditions would remain the same and 22 per cent believed things would get worse. Mr Kwan said the executives were more positive about their companies' financial positions and future profits because they had managed to cut production costs during the downturn. 'A lot of firms in Hong Kong have conducted layoffs in the past 1.5 years, so to some extent the cost of production has come down,' he said. '[On the economy] they are not happy because Hong Kong faces high unemployment, lower wages, negative equity and pressures in the external environment.' Those who believed economic conditions would improve in six months were probably focused less on the domestic economy, relying instead on the prosperity of China and a sustainable economic rebound in the United States in the second half of the year, Mr Kwan said.