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Ask the CEOs: Are You Raising Prices?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- What are America's corporate leaders saying about the issues of the day? This week, TheStreet launches a new column to provide insight into what business executives are thinking. TheStreet's reporters, during the course of their weekly coverage, will pose a thematic question to the executives they interview.

This week's question:

Have you been able to raise prices?

Imax (IMAX - Get Report) CEO Rich Gelfond: "The theaters set the prices, not us; it's up to the exhibitors. But I, my own preference is they went up a lot in the last several years. I'd like to see that digested for a while and see where it goes. I think it's a long life, and you don't need to make all the money the first day, and I think over time, prices will go up because demand is so strong. But I hope the exhibitors don't push it too hard."

Savvis (SVVS) CEO Jim Ousley: "To date that has not been an issue. Any competitive cycle has its competitive pressures, but there's so much demand for these types of services that in general pricing has been relatively firm in most markets, so we don't see that as an issue today.

RSC Rentals (RRR) CEO Eric Olsson: "We think we are at the beginning of an expansion phase, a long expansion phase. Adding to that, this outsourcing trend, and what we believe is a better pricing environment also, as volumes pick up. We expect strong volume growth and positive pricing will continue in 2011. TheStreet asked Olsson if he sees room for price increases. "We believe so, and in fact we have raised our prices for the last three consecutive quarters, so we have been able to move them up," Olsson said. "We have not fully recovered from the price reductions that we saw during the recession. But like I said, we're optimistic at this phase in the cycle [which] certainly historically has always been strong for pricing -- we think [that] will happen this time as well."
Cliffs Natural Resources CEO Joseph Carrabbas
Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF - Get Report) CEO Joseph Carrabbas: "Yes that's right. And what's driving that is this new index pricing system." (Last year, the global iron-ore business shifted from annual benchmark contracts to shorter-term supply arrangements linked to the spot market, where prices are quoted on daily indexes.) "Everything drives off of that. The Platt's pricing, for instance, just continues to move up. It's above $190 [a ton] right now. You still have great demand into China [home to the world's biggest steel industry]. And India has cut back on their exports; India is about a 100-million-ton-a-year exporter of iron ore. So that's really helping prices through the first quarter of the year. Then, in North America, the big steel mills announced better outlooks this earnings season on blast furnace utilization. We still believe we'll be in a sold-out position -- and that the situation won't change much through the rest of the year."
Ed Mueller, Qwest CEO

Qwest (Q - Get Report) CEO Ed Mueller: " We do raise prices where we think it makes sense. In our consumer phone services, for example, on call-waiting and those types of features."
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