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Equipment Finance Industry's December Confidence Survey Reaches Pre-Pandemic Levels

Washington, DC - The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation (the Foundation) has released its December 2020 Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry (MCI-EFI). The index reports a qualitative assessment of both the prevailing business conditions and expectations for the future as reported by key executives from the $900 billion equipment finance sector. Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market is 59.7, an increase from the November index of 56.1.

The Foundation also releases highlights of the COVID-19 Impact Survey of the Equipment Finance Industry, a monthly survey of industry leaders designed to track the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the equipment finance industry. 47 survey responses were collected from December 1-14 on a range of topics, including payments deferrals, defaults, and staff analysis. 50% of companies expect that the default rate will be greater in 2020 than in 2019, down from 54% in November; 33% expect it to be the same, down from 35% last month; and 17% expect it to be lower compared to 11% last month. Only 2% of lenders reported having more than 10% of their portfolio now under deferral, down from 4% of lenders last month. The largest percentage of respondents (64%) have 0.01-4.99% of dollars outstanding currently under payment deferral in their owned portfolio. Comments from survey respondents follow MCI-EFI survey comments below, and additional survey results and analysis are available at https://www.leasefoundation.org/industry-resources/covid-impact-survey/.

When asked about the outlook for the future, MCI-EFI survey respondent Paul Tyczkowski, Senior Vice President Finance, LEAF Commercial Capital Inc., said, “While the COVID crisis continues to have significant impacts on businesses as we close out the year, there’s reason for cautious optimism now that the distribution of a highly effective vaccine is underway. Assuming distribution occurs as planned, I’m hopeful for a steady return to at least some level of normalcy in our lives and the economy during 2021.”

December 2020 Survey Results:

The overall MCI-EFI is 59.7, an increase from the November index of 56.1.
   
•  When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 27.6% of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, up from 26.9% in November. 62.1% believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, an increase from 53.9% the previous month. 10.3% believe business conditions will worsen, a decrease from 19.2% in November.

•   27.6% of the survey respondents believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures (capex) will increase over the next four months, up from 19.2% in November. 55.2% believe demand will “remain the same” during the same four-month time period, a decrease from 69.2% the previous month. 17.2% believe demand will decline, up from 11.5% in November.

•   24.1% of the respondents expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, up from 23.1% in November. 75.9% of executives indicate they expect the “same” access to capital to fund business, a decrease from 76.9% last month. None expect “less” access to capital, unchanged from the previous month.  

•   When asked, 31% of the executives report they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, up from 30.8% in November. 69% expect no change in headcount over the next four months, an increase from 57.7% last month. None expect to hire fewer employees, down from 11.5% in November.

•   None of the leadership evaluate the current U.S. economy as “excellent,” unchanged from the previous month. 72.4 of the leadership evaluate the current U.S. economy as “fair,” down from 76.9% in November. 27.6% evaluate it as “poor,” up from 23.1% last month.

•   55.2% of the survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get “better” over the next six months, an increase from 34.6% in November. 34.5% indicate they believe the U.S. economy will “stay the same” over the next six months, a decrease from 50% last month. 10.3% believe economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, down from 15.4% the previous month.

•   In December 34.5 % of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, an increase from 26.9% last month. 62.1% believe there will be “no change” in business development spending, a decrease from 69.2% in October. 3.5% believe there will be a decrease in spending, relatively unchanged from 3.9% last month.

December 2020 MCI-EFI Survey Comments from Industry Executive Leadership:

Independent, Middle Ticket
“The end to the pandemic is in sight, so while we need to navigate the next few months carefully, FY 2021 will undoubtedly improve as the year progresses.” Bruce J. Winter, President, FSG Capital, Inc.

Bank, Middle Ticket
“Post-election it’s still uncertain how the political environment will impact longer-term plans for business investment. Hopefully the fiscal stimulus required to steady the current instability will be passed without much further delay.”  Michael Romanowski, President, Farm Credit Leasing

Executive Comments from COVID-19 Impact Survey of the Equipment Finance Industry:

Independent, Middle Ticket
“Through 2021, the economic climate will be tepid in many sectors and robust in a few. The medium term will show a significant uptick in volume, particularly in the construction and ancillary industries. With the political strife, social justice issues, U.S. debt load, and global competition, the long term is uncertain at best.” Jonathan Ruga, CEO, Sentry Financial Corporation

Bank, Middle Ticket
“There’s quite a bit of pent-up demand due to COVID. Mid-2021 we should see a large increase in equipment purchases in all verticals. As long as there is equipment to purchase there will always be equipment finance needs.” Donna Yanuzzi, Managing Director of Sales and Marketing, F.N.B. Equipment Finance

Independent, Large Ticket
“Given the rising COVID rates, I would expect a temporary slowdown in activity in the short term. Medium term, and depending on monetary and tax policy with the new Biden administration, could exhibit a downturn and short recession. I believe in the long term our industry will be strong with new technological and alternative asset types driving demand.” Vincent Belcastro, Group Head Syndications, Element Fleet Management

About The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation

Foundation-logoThe Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization that propels the equipment finance sector—and its people—forward through industry specific knowledge, intelligence, and programs that contribute to industry innovation, individual careers, and the overall betterment of the equipment leasing and finance industry. The Foundation is funded through individual and corporate donations. Learn more at www.leasefoundation.org.

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