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Equipment Finance Executive Confidence Flat in July

July 25, 2014
Lack of confidence reported despite strong June numbers.

Overall, confidence of key executives in the $827 billion equipment finance sector is 61.4, unchanged from the June 2014 Monthly Confidence Index of the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation.  Survey respondent Adam D. Warner, president, Key Equipment Finance, says it’s time to put aside blaming the effects of last winter’s harsh weather for the economy’s deep-freeze.

“I don't believe that the dramatic contraction of the U.S. economy in Q1 should be blamed on winter weather,” he said. “There are underlying concerns by businesses and consumers that real unemployment has been too high for too long and not enough of the federal incentives are around job creation.  Additionally, the federal government's inability to collaborate on growth initiatives is having a lasting toll on confidence.”

July 2014 Survey Results:

  • When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 28.6% of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, up from 23.5% in June.  68.6% of respondents believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, down from 70.6% in June.  2.9% believe business conditions will worsen, down from 5.9% who believed so the previous month.
  • 25.7% of survey respondents believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures (capex) will increase over the next four months, up from 17.6% in June.  68.6% believe demand will “remain the same” during the same four-month time period, down from 79.4% the previous month.  5.7% believe demand will decline, up from 2.9% who believed so in June.
  • 25.7% of executives expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, down from 26.5% in June. 74.3% of survey respondents indicate they expect the “same” access to capital to fund business, an increase from 73.5% in June.  No one expects “less” access to capital, unchanged from the previous month.
  • When asked, 37% of the executives reported they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, a decrease from 44% in June.  60% expect no change in headcount over the next four months, up from 50% last month.  2.9% expect fewer employees, down from 5.9% who expected fewer employees in June.
  • 5.7% of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “excellent,” up from 2.9% last month.  88.6% of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “fair,” a decrease from 91.4% in June.  5.7% rate it as “poor,” unchanged from the last three months.
  • 22.9% of the survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get “better” over the next six months, a decrease from 29.4% who believed so in June.  74.3% of survey respondents indicate they believe the U.S. economy will “stay the same” over the next six months, an increase from 70.6% in June.  2.9% believe economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, up from none last month.
  • In July, 25.7% of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, a decrease from 35.3% in June.  74.3% believe there will be “no change” in business development spending, an increase from 61.8% last month.  None believe there will be a decrease in spending, a decrease from 2.9% who believed so last month.

What Happened in June?

ELFA’s Monthly Leasing and Finance Index showed the finance industry’s overall new business volume for June was $9 billion, up 5 percent from new business volume in June 2013. Month over month, new business volume was up 30 percent from May. Year to date, cumulative new business volume increased 3 percent compared to 2013.  

Receivables over 30 days decreased from the previous month at 1.6 percent, and were up from 1.4 percent in the same period in 2013.  Charge-offs were unchanged for the third consecutive month at an all-time low of 0.2 percent.

Credit approvals totaled 80.1 percent in June, an increase from 76.1 percent the previous month.  Total headcount for equipment finance companies was up 1.0 percent year over year.

Comments from Industry Executives

Independent, Small Ticket

“The industry continues to supply capital to the economy.  We are approving a strong percentage of applicants and our yields continue to be challenged. My concern is that demand still does not seem to be where it should be for an economy that should be expanding at this point.  This tepid demand continues to drive strong competition both on rate and credit window.” Valerie Hayes Jester, President, Brandywine Capital Associates, Inc.

Bank, Small Ticket

“The economic climate remains cloudy.  Investors have fewer places to go and invest.  The tension in the Middle East and immigration issues are increasing and most likely will soften markets.” Kenneth Collins, Chief Executive Officer, Susquehanna Commercial Finance, Inc.

Bank, Middle Ticket

“Economists generally point to a robust second half of 2014. If they’re right, the equipment finance market will have a strong second half.  However, past predictions of a strong economic recovery have missed the mark.  I am cautiously optimistic that predictions of a strong recovery beginning in the second half will finally ring true.”  Thomas Jaschik, President, BB&T Equipment Finance

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