Equipment Leasing/Finance Industry Confidence Remains Steady in June  

According to the latest release of the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s monthly confidence index, confidence in the equipment finance market remained steady in June at 63.5, relatively unchanged from the May index of 63.2.

When asked about the outlook for the future, survey respondent Valerie Hayes Jester, president of Brandywine Capital Associates, said, “Our business volume remains steady, but it is not on pace to exceed last year’s numbers. We see larger companies moving ahead and making capital investments but the smaller businesses seem to be more worried about the instabilities in Washington. The optimism of Wall Street is not shared by Main Street. Portfolio performance remains strong but certainty needs to return to the environment of the average small business owner before investment of a growing scale returns.”

When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 31% of executives said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, an increase from 22.6% in May. The increase corresponded with a 2% decrease in respondents who believe business conditions will remain the same and a 6.5 decrease in those who think they will worsen.

“The cash grain sector of the agriculture industry continues to experience a rebalancing resulting in pull back in new capital investment. Other agriculture sectors are also impacted as they work through down cycles. Some sectors—swine, poultry, nuts and wine producers—are engaged in growth activities resulting in finance opportunities,” said Michael Romanowski, president of Farm Credit Leasing Services.

There was a large decrease in the number of respondents who believe the demand for lases and loans to fund capital expenditures will increase over the next four months, with only 17.2% indicating so after 38.7% did in May. A continuation of current conditions is more likely, as the other 82.8% of responding executives expect demand to be the same over the next four months.

Similar results came when asked about access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions, with 13.8% expecting more access while 86.2% expect the same about of access.

When asked, 41.1% of the executives reported that they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, a decrease from 45.2% in May. A slight majority (51.6%) expect no change in headcount over the next four months, unchanged from last month.

All respondents evaluated the current U.S. economy as fair while 51.7% believe economic conditions will remain the same over the next four months, matching the number of executives who expect no change to spending on business development spending over the next four months. That is compared to 48.3% who expect an increase while no respondents indicated an expected decrease.

“The economy appears to be moving along at a good pace. Uncertainty in Washington and lack of momentum around tax policy could impact capital spending in the second half of the year,” said Thomas Partridge, president of Fifth Third Equipment Finance.

“The fundamental health of the business community and consumer participation are positives for the near term. The risk to the economy is the political climate and uncertainty it is creating in various industries dependent upon trade, tourism, and policies that support growth,” added Paul Menzel, president and CEO of Financial Pacific Leasing, an Umpqua Bank Company

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