Industry Confidence Up Fourth Consecutive Month

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation said its August 2013 Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry (MCI-EFI) showed that overall, confidence in the equipment finance market is 61.0, an increase from the July index of 59.4, and the fourth consecutive increase of the MCI-EFI.

When asked about the outlook for the future, MCI survey respondent William Verhelle, CEO, First American Equipment Finance, said, “We see continued, gradual economic improvement in equipment finance activity across all our markets. Large, creditworthy obligors continue to finance major equipment acquisitions to retain flexibility and preserve capital. Our portfolio performance couldn’t be much better, with record low charge-offs and delinquencies. We remain cautiously optimistic about the remainder of 2013 and 2014.”

August 2013 Survey Results:

• When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 32.4% of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, up from 25% in July. 67.6% of respondents believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, down from 71.9% in July. No one believes business conditions will worsen, down from 3.1% the previous month.

• 23.5% of survey respondents believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures (CAPEX) will increase over the next four months, up from 15.6% in July. 76.5% believe demand will “remain the same” during the same four-month time period, down from 81.3% the previous month. No one believes demand will decline, down from 3.1% in July.

• 20.6% of executives expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, down from 21.9% in July. 79.4% of survey respondents indicate they expect the “same” access to capital to fund business, an increase from 78.1% the previous month. No one expects “less” access to capital, unchanged from July.

• When asked, 29.4% of the executives reported they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, an increase from 25% in July. 64.7% expect no change in headcount over the next four months, down from 68.8% last month. 5.9% expect fewer employees, down from 6.3% of respondents who expected fewer employees in July.

• 91.2% of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “fair,” up from 90.6% last month. 8.8% rate it as “poor,” down slightly from 9.4% in July.

• 26.5% of survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get “better” over the next six months, a decrease from 34.4% in July. 70.6% of survey respondents indicate they believe the U.S. economy will “stay the same” over the next six months, an increase from 62.5% in July. 2.9% believe economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, down slightly from 3.1% who believed so last month.

• In August, 29.4% of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, a decrease from 31.3% in July. 70.6% believe there will be “no change” in business development spending, an increase from 68.8% last month. No one believes there will be a decrease in spending, unchanged from July.

August 2013 MCI Survey Comments from Industry 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 outlook is slowly improving, but there are concerns about effects of changing Fed policy and renewed talk/action/inaction in Washington regarding sequestration and the U.S. budget.” William Besgen, president and COO, Hitachi Capital America

Bank, Small Ticket: “From a credit quality and liquidity perspective, the equipment leasing industry is very well positioned for healthy growth. We are still in need of a stronger economic recovery to grow opportunities. Until then, competition is pushing greater risk taking.” Paul Menzel, president & CEO, Financial Pacific Leasing

Bank, Middle Ticket: “Escalating cost of equipment, rapidly changing technology, increasing interest rates, and previously delayed replacement or additions of new equipment position the industry for a strong finish to 2013, and suggest an even stronger volume of business in 2014. Leasing of capital expenditures is growing as the financial product of choice in an environment of continued uncertainty and mixed confidence in the current recovery cycle.” Russell Nelson, president, CoBank Farm Credit Leasing

Bank, Middle Ticket: “With a very sluggish GDP and an another almost certain federal budget battle coming this fall, I believe growth will be more challenged in the second half of 2013.” Adam Warner, president, Key Equipment Finance

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