Michiana Benchmark Business Index hits highest level

Area chief financial officers are more optimistic now than at any point since Kruggel Lawton and Co. began tracking their Michiana Benchmark Business Index.

Posted on April 29, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on April 29, 2013 at 4:52 p.m.

ELKHART — Area chief financial officers are more optimistic than they’ve been in years, according to the latest quarterly Michiana Benchmark Business Index, released Monday, April 29, by Kruggel, Lawton and Co.

The overall index, which measures revenue, profitability, employment and general CFO outlook, saw a bump to 62.56 out of a maximum 100, compared to 60.25 in the fourth quarter of 2012 and only 56.91 in the third quarter of last year.

The numbers came from a brief survey of 54 CFOs or controllers of Michiana-area businesses, a cross section that Terry Bush, a director at the accounting and consulting firm, believes offers a good look at the area economy. The people responding to the survey compared the first quarter of this year to the same quarter in 2012, and on the whole the outlook was better.

Bush said, “We are encouraged by the continued increase in these quarterly survey results, which reflects a degree of improvement and cautious optimism among CFOs in Michianaarea companies. We’re particularly encouraged at the substantial increase in the employment metric for this quarter, which hopefully reflects more employment opportunities for individuals and families here in Michiana.”

Of the four components that make up the overall index, employment ranked the lowest, just below profitability. Revenue was higher than both, but behind the more subjective CFO outlook measure.

When the firm started the index in 2010, the overall index came in at 60.22 before diving to a low of 55.92 in 2011. The previous high point in the index had been the second quarter of 2012, when the benchmark score was 62.38.

“We believe this survey is a meaningful gauge of activity over time in the for-profit business sector of the Michiana region,” Bush wrote in a message accompanying the quarterly release.

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