Overall new business volume in March for 25 companies representing a cross section of the $827 billion equipment finance sector was up 3 percent from the same time last year, according to the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index (MLFI-25). Month-over-month, new business volume was up 30 percent from February. Year to date, cumulative new business volume increased 6 percent compared to 2013.
Receivables over 30 days increased to 2.1 percent from 1.8 percent the previous month, and were up slightly from 2.0 percent during the same period in 2013. Charge-offs were down at a new all-time low of 0.2 percent from 0.4 percent the previous month.
Credit approvals totaled 77.8 percent in March, an increase from 75.3 percent the previous month. Sixty-five percent of participating organizations reported submitting more transactions for approval during March, an increase from 53 percent during February.
Finally, total headcount for equipment finance companies was up 4.4 percent year over year.
“Equipment finance companies in almost all industry sectors are reporting a strong first quarter of the year,” said ELFA President and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE. The March data showing new business volume clearly provides evidence of a strong first quarter looking back and a positive forecast for future activity. The Federal Reserve recently hinted at continuing a monetary policy that will promote a sustained low interest rate environment at least for the foreseeable future, which is giving the business community a reason to feel confident about the overall trajectory of the U.S. economy and make capital investments in their businesses. Credit quality metrics are mixed, with delinquencies edging upward counterbalanced by monthly losses reaching historic lows. Another positive sign for the industry is the trend toward increased hiring during the past 10 months.”
Brian J. Griffin, Senior Vice President, Leasing, MB Financial Bank, N.A., said, “The continued strong metrics measured by the MLFI-25 reflect the ongoing strength of the economy and, more specifically, the leasing industry. Of particular significance is the dramatic increase in new business volume from February, the record low charge-off percentage and the continued increase in headcount in the industry. If medium- and long-term rates can remain relatively stable, these results bode well for continued growth for the balance of the year.”