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A significant percentage of visitors and exhibitors at last week’s AHR Expo rate the prospects for the US HVAC&R market this year as "good" or "excellent," according to a survey conducted by ASHRAE Journal.

Among pre-registered attendees, 24% called the market outlook "excellent," while another 57% rated it as "good." Only 1% said 2008 market prospects were "poor."

Exhibitors also had positive market expectations. More than half, 54%, rated the market outlook "good" and 13% called it "excellent." Four percent of exhibitors called 2008 prospects "poor."

The survey was sent to participants on January 7.

About half (51%) of attendees said they expect the market to be about the same as in 2007. More than a third (38%) expect it to be better and 11% expect worse conditions.

In comparison, only 17% of exhibitors expected 2008 to be better than last year, 60% said it will be about the same and 23% think it will be worse than 2007.

Both attendees and exhibitors look to retrofit/renovation work for their best opportunities this year. Among exhibitors, 24% rated it "excellent", 52% "good" and only 2% "poor." Among attendees, 46% see retrofit/renovation as offering the best prospects for business this year.

Survey participants were also asked to rate 2008 prospects in various segments of the market. Health care was rated as "excellent" by the greatest number of attendees (21%), followed closely by large commercial (20%).

Exhibitors also have good expectations for hospitals/health care, rated "excellent" by 19% of exhibitors and "good" by another 55%. Just 4% expect the segment to perform poorly.

At the low end, non-school institutional was rated "excellent" by 7% of attendees, followed by residential and lodging, both with 8% calling the prospects "excellent." Twenty-seven percent rated residential prospects "poor." Exhibitors, too, expect little improvement in the residential segment. Only 5% rated segment prospects "excellent" while 32% called them "poor" and 40% rated them "fair."