KPMG interviewed executives from 165 engineering and construction companies around the world for the firm's 2013 Global Construction Survey. The respondents' annual revenue varied in size from turnovers of US$250 million to more than US$5 billion, and served a range of markets including energy, power, industrial, healthcare/pharmaceutical, manufacturing, mining, education and government.

The Survey shows an industry in better shape now than 4 or 5 years ago, with rising backlogs and largely healthy margins. The recovery in the global economy is driving infrastructure, power and energy projects, while cheaper gas prices are leading to manufacturing growth.

Nevertheless, contractors have to balance the longer term need for capital projects with more immediate pressures on owners' funding sources. Invest too much, too soon, and the demand may not arrive in time, leaving companies with idle resources. Invest too little, too late, and they may miss the wave altogether.

While issues such as government funding and capital markets movements are beyond their control, engineering and construction leaders can take steps to position themselves for the future.

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