The latest iteration of the Credit Managers’ Index showed a return to form in some key factors, and jumped almost a full point from where it languished in October. November’s 55.2 reading is still shy of the high points reached back in February and March (55.8 and 56.2, respectively), but is back to the levels seen in August and September. When the reading from October fell to 54.4, there was a sense that it may have been an anomaly, and not as dangerous as it would appear. Now that assessment looks more accurate.
The most important jump was in sales, which climbed from 57.4 to 60.4. It is always encouraging to see the data cresting past 60, and this marks the best sales month since August when the reading was at 62. However, the best improvement in the favorable factors was in dollar collections, as it improved from 54.6 to 61.3. That is an impressive showing by any measure, and suggests that companies are seeing enough improvement in revenues to start catching up on their debt.
There was slightly more volatility in the unfavorable categories, causing a decline in the overall unfavorable index. Every indicator except dollar amount beyond terms, which rose from 48 to 49.9, slipped. Rejections of credit applications fell from 52 to 51.1—not a major reduction, but a signal that there are still applicants coming with less than acceptable ratings. The decline in accounts placed for collection from 53 to 51.2 was a little steeper, but is consistent with the pace set for most of the year and suggests that many companies are still trying to get back into financial shape.