Overall confidence in the $628 billion equipment finance market is 50.2, down from the July index of 51.5, reflecting ongoing industry concerns over economic, regulatory and political uncertainty, according to the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s August 2012 Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry (MCI-EFI).
When asked about the outlook for the future, MCI survey respondentJohn McQueen, executive vice president and head of Wells Fargo Equipment Finance, said, “My long term view of the equipment finance industry is strong; the shorter term view of the U.S. economy and worldwide economy is volatile. The U.S. economic growth rate and the stability for the economy will continue to slow business investment.”
When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 6.3% of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, down slightly from 6.5% in July. 78.1% of respondents believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, up from 71% in July. 15.6% believe business conditions will worsen, down from 22.6% the previous month.
6.3% of survey respondents believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures (capex) will increase over the next four months, a decrease from 12.9% in July. 75% believe demand will “remain the same” during the same four-month time period, up from 71% the previous month. 18.8% believe demand will decline, up from 16.1% in July.
15.6% of executives expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, down from 19.4% in July. 84.4% of survey respondents indicate they expect the “same” access to capital to fund business, an increase from 77.4% the previous month. No survey respondents expect “less” access to capital, down from 3.2% who expected less access in July.
When asked, 31.3% of the executives reported they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, down from 35.5% in July. 65.6% expect no change in headcount over the next four months, up from 64.5% last month. 3.1% expect fewer employees, up from no respondents who expected fewer employees in July.
68.8% of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “fair,” down from 71% last month. 31.3% rate it as “poor,” up from 29% in July.
6.3% of survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get “better” over the next six months, down from 9.7% in July. 78.1% of survey respondents indicate they believe the U.S. economy will “stay the same” over the next six months, up from 71% in July. 15.6% believe economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, a decrease from 19.4% who believed so last month.
In August, 15.6% of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, down from 25.8% in July. 81.3% believe there will be “no change” in business development spending, up from 71% last month, and 3.1% believe there will be a decrease in spending, unchanged from last month.
Comments from Executive Leadership
Depending on the market segment they represent, executives have differing points of view on the current and future outlook for the industry.
Independent, Small Ticket
“The industry continues to fuel the few areas of the economy that are seeing expansion. Apprehension among small business owners appears to be ever present given world economic affairs, pending elections, and tax code changes. Margin compression continues to be an issue as the availability of capital continues to outweigh demand.”—Valerie Hayes Jester, President, Brandywine Capital Associates, Inc.
Independent, Middle Ticket
“We believe demand will continue to be sluggish until after November.”—George K. Booth, Chief Executive Officer, Black Rock Capital LLC
Bank, Middle Ticket
“After seven months of growth, equipment capital expenditures are slowing down. Uncertainty with the U.S. economy is the leading reason.”—Harry Kaplun, president, Frost Equipment Leasing and Finance