BlueTarp Building Index for 1Q18

Rosy outlooks far exceed negative ones in BlueTarp Financial's latest Building Supply Index, the Maine-based credit management company found.

The Portland, Maine-based company's 12-month trailing average for the first quarter of 2018 hit a record 130.66. That's 1.4% better than 2017's final three-month period. Unadjusted for seasonality, the index is 5.6% better than where it stood in 2017's first quarter.

BlueTarp survey results 1Q18

The index is calculated based on public data such as consumer confidence, construction spending, and building permits as well as internal reports drawn from BlueTarp's experiences providing credit management services to 2,000 building material suppliers that collectively have more than 120,000 pro customers.

A separate survey of builder customers also showed more than twice as many pros said their sales were trending upward than were going down, and there was a 3:1 ratio in terms of those believing the U.S. economy was growing rather than declining.

“It’s clear from the index and survey, business is good,” Scott Simpson, president and CEO of BlueTarp, said in a news release. “I’m a broken record on this, but delinquencies remain hovering at a level where a disruption will trigger a new wave of bad debt--beware.”

BlueTarp spend/delinquency chart for 1Q18

One of the ways BlueTarp tracks trends is with this X-Y axis chart showing customer performance in terms of both spending and delinquencies. For the past several years, BlueTarp says accounts have been in the Cautious quadrant, in which spending is high but the delinquency rate is slightly worse than desired.