SOURCE: Adaptive Planning

October 26, 2009 08:00 ET

Financial Executives Predict "Double Dip" Recession, Do Not Expect Recovery Until Q2 2010 or Later

Quarterly Poll by Adaptive Planning and BPM Forum Shows CFOs Are Increasingly Re-Planning Due to Ongoing Economic Uncertainty

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwire - October 26, 2009) - Nearly half of financial professionals think that the economy is headed for another downturn, 74 percent expect the recovery will begin in Q2 2010 or later, and well over a third expect further employment cuts over the next six months. Economic uncertainty continues to be high, leading 34 percent of companies to re-forecast on a monthly or more frequent basis, the highest reading of the past year. These striking observations and predictions are among the findings of a poll of financial executives conducted in September and October by Adaptive Planning and the Business Performance Management (BPM) Forum.

The Q3 2009 Business Volatility and Variables Survey revealed that 46 percent predict a "W-shaped" recovery. Combined with the large majority that predict a recovery to begin in Q2 2010 or beyond, this suggests a widespread expectation that a second downturn will occur over the next two quarters. Fifty-seven percent are facing high or very high levels of uncertainty in their business, up from 45 percent last quarter.

On the positive side, 25 percent of respondents said conditions are better now than they were six months ago, compared to just 15 percent who said so last quarter. However, a full 75 percent said current conditions are the same (33 percent) or worse (42 percent) than they were six months ago. While nearly half (47 percent) expect conditions to improve within the next six months, this is nearly the same as last quarter (48 percent), suggesting that despite recent signs of recovery, respondents are no more optimistic now than they were in Q2.

Companies continue to underperform relative to their plans, with a surprising 61 percent coming in under revenue targets this quarter, slightly worse than 56 percent from last quarter. This was offset somewhat by 46 percent that came in under expense targets, which was essentially unchanged from last quarter (47 percent).

As they look forward, financial professionals expect improvements in revenues and profits, with 46 percent expecting revenue growth over the next six months, and 33 percent predicting profit margin growth in that period. However, the employment picture has deteriorated, with those projecting additional hiring decreasing relative to last quarter (14 percent versus 21 percent), and those expecting further personnel reductions increasing (39 percent versus 32 percent last quarter). 47 percent of larger companies, with over 100 employees, expect additional headcount reductions.

The frequency of re-planning activity rose to the highest level since the survey began in Q4 2008, with 34% re-planning or creating "what-if" analyses three or more times in the last quarter, nearly 2.5 times the rate reported in Q4 2008 when the downturn first became apparent. 60% expect that the uncertain economic environment will cause them to re-plan, re-forecast, and perform what-if analyses even more frequently in the next quarter, up from 50% in the last survey.

"In contrast to some recent positive signs in the stock market and corporate earnings announcements, we were surprised that there wasn't more optimism in this quarter's survey data," said William A. Soward, CEO of Adaptive Planning. "The performance versus plan numbers, increased frequency of re-planning and re-forecasting, and heightened interest in what-if analyses all point to the fact that financial professionals continue to face significant challenges in planning for and managing through uncertainty."

The online poll surveyed financial professionals from companies in over twenty industries and ranging in size from under $10 million to over $1 billion in revenues, with 54 percent categorized as midsized or large companies (more than 100 employees). This is the fourth quarterly poll examining perspectives on key economic conditions, individual company performance, and the role of planning and forecasting in the current economic downturn.

The poll will be conducted once per quarter and the results tallied against those of previous quarters to identify trends in overall economic conditions and planning practices. For more information on the summary report of the findings, visit http://www.adaptiveplanning.com/docs/Business_Volatility_and_Variables_Poll_Q3_2009_FINAL.pdf.

In a separate announcement, Adaptive Planning announced today a new "QuickStart" (http://www.adaptiveplanning.com/news/news_press_releases.php) bundle to make it easier and more affordable to transition from spreadsheets to Adaptive Planning, by combining user-based subscriptions with key training and implementation services, for an attractive price.

About the BPM Forum

The Business Performance Management (BPM) Forum is dedicated to advancing performance accountability, process improvement, operational visibility and compliance in global organizations. It provides support to thousands of senior executives and practitioners representing enterprises with more than $500 billion in combined annual revenues. The BPM Forum's C-level members engage in research, thought leadership, and knowledge exchange programs around a variety of strategic issues and challenges. More information is available at: www.BPMForum.org.

About Adaptive Planning

Adaptive Planning is the worldwide leader in on-demand financial planning and reporting solutions that improve operational efficiency, strengthen companywide collaboration, and drive better business decisions in companies of all sizes. Adaptive Planning makes it easy to move beyond spreadsheets and automate budgeting, forecasting, reporting, and "what-if" analysis, without the cost and complexity associated with traditional business intelligence and BPM software. With free software, free trials, and both on-demand and on-premise deployment options, Adaptive Planning is the fastest and easiest way for finance organizations to enhance their agility and strategic value. Adaptive Planning is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif. and can be reached at 650-528-7500 or www.adaptiveplanning.com.

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