CFO Business-Conditions Index Slips

The appraisal of business conditions among mid-sized company CFOs slipped in August after a lonely one-month July uptick, according to , a company that provides corporate-finance and other services to client companies. Expectations about how business conditions will change over the next two months also dipped in August.

The survey showed that 24% of executives saw general business conditions improve last month, down from 28% in the prior month, while the 17% saying conditions worsened compared with 14% in the prior month. (The reading for those seeing no change was 59% in the latest month, compared to 58%.) Over the next 60 days, 35% saw things improving, up from 34% responding that way in July, with a worsening expected by 8%, compared to 9% in July. No change in conditions was seen by 57%, unchanged from the prior month.

Tatum's index number showed the rating for business conditions at 2.9, off from 3.0 in July. After peaking at 10.7 in January, the index number had slid for five straight months, bottoming at 2.7 for June before turning up to 3.0 in July.

The monthly survey sampling the executives' sense of current business conditions -- broken down into order backlogs, capital expenditures, employment, and capital availability and pricing --- was based on 143 email responses to a late-August questionnaire -- with seven of 10 coming from Tatum's CFO partners, and other respondents being corporate principals, managing partners or CIO partners with the Tatum organization.

Results seemed quite mixed in the breakdown of categories. In terms of order backlogs, for example, 28% saw an improvement in backlogs, up from 27%, while those reporting lower backlogs climbed to 18% from 17%. Higher backlog levels over the next two months were expected by 38%, up from 36%, while those saying the backlog picture "will worsen" numbered 7%, down from 10%.