ELFF: April Equipment Finance Confidence Increases

According to the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index, confidence in the equipment finance market increased for the second consecutive month to 59.1, an increase from the March index of 51.6.

When asked about the outlook for the future, MCI-EFI survey respondent Aylin Cankardes, president and founder of Rockwell Financial Group, said, “The favorable rate environment is still driving growth in the equipment finance sector. Focusing on customers where margin and broader opportunity exists continues to be our top priority. The key drivers are providing innovative and solution driven options to generate value.”

When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 12.1% of responding executives said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, an increase from 3.2% in March. Additionally, 12.1% believe business conditions will worsen, a decrease from 19.4% the previous month.

There was also a rise in the number of survey respondents who believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures (capex) will increase over the next four months (15.2%), up from 9.7% in March. However, 18.2% believe demand will decline, an increase from 16.1% who believed so in March.

“The continued low rate environment makes it attractive to finance equipment needs,” said Thomas Partridge, president of Fifth Third Equipment Finance. “The biggest concerns are cyclical industries which are showing signs of a downturn.”

A larger portion of executives expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months (24.2%) in comparison to March (16.1%). No respondents said they expect “less” access to capital, a decrease from 6.5% last month.

When asked, 51.5% of the executives report they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, an increase from 32.3% in March.

The overwhelming majority of survey respondents rate the U.S. economy as fair (97%), with very few expecting much change in the next six months (87.9%). However, optimism is clearly on the rise, albeit marginally, as only 9.1% of executive believe economic conditions will get worse, down from 22.6% in March.

“Our new business volumes from our smaller ticket middle market customers, especially our medium duty truck users, continue to be strong, evidencing continued optimism in local economies across the U.S, said William Besgen, senior advisor and vice chairman emeritus for Hitachi Capital America.

In April, 54.5% of respondents indicated their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, an increase from 38.7% in March. No respondents said they believe there will be a decrease in spending, a decrease from 12.9% who believed so last month.

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