Information specialists

Dun & Bradstreet

Israel, published a report on Wednesday showing that the local market's credit worthiness has improved during the month of February 2001.

The company's economists say that in February of this year only 17.1% of the companies were behind on payments to their suppliers, as opposed to 18.3% who lagged behind in their payments in January of 2001, and 25.7%, who were behind in the same period last year.

The greatest improvement was in the real estate sector, where the rate of delayed payments dropped to 28.3%, from 36.2% last month, and about 48.1% in February of 2000. D&B analysts in Israel believe the improvement results from the reduced volume of activity in the real estate market.

Meanwhile, the tourism and hotel industry posted the highest percentage of companies behind in their payments, which is indicative of the sector's hard times given the local unrest. In February, about 44.2% of the companies in the industry were behind on their payments, in January only 34.6% of them lagged behind, and in the same time last year only 37.3% were tardy. D&B believes the escalation in the country's political conflict will only add to the tourism industry's crisis and its credit worthiness is expected to deteriorate even further.

The electronics industry also took a hit in February, during which 25.3% of the sector's suppliers hadn't received their payments, compared with 20.6% in January, and 45.5% in the comparable period last year. These figures reflect the effect the declining hi-tech industry has on the electronics sector.

Other industries whose credit worthiness has decreased include food retailers and retailers of other perishable goods. In contrast, an improved rate of credit worthiness has been observed the wood, paper and printing, non-perishable goods, business services, food production, gas and chemicals, textile, metal and machinery industries.

D&B's Israel economists concluded that though this is the second consecutive month showing an improvement, a stable bill paying society is still more of a hope than a reality