The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation (the Foundation) has released the 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. Forty-seven survey responses were collected from Dec. 1-14, on a range of topics, including payments deferrals, defaults, and staff analysis. Fifty percent of companies expect that the default rate will be greater in 2020 than in 2019, down from 54 percent in November; 33 percent expect it to be the same, down from 35 percent last month; and 17 percent expect it to be lower compared to 11 percent last month. Only 2 percent of lenders reported having more than 10 percent of their portfolio now under deferral, down from 4 percent of lenders last month. The largest percentage of respondents (64 percent) have 0.01-4.99 percent of dollars outstanding currently under payment deferral in their owned portfolio. Comments from survey respondents follow MCI-EFI survey comments below. Read additional survey results and analysis.
When asked about the outlook for the future, MCI-EFI survey respondent Paul Tyczkowski, senior vice president finance, LEAF Commercial Capital Inc., says, “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 percent of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, up from 26.9 percent in November. 62.1 percent believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, an increase from 53.9 percent the previous month. 10.3 percent believe business conditions will worsen, a decrease from 19.2 percent in November.
- 27.6 percent 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 percent in November. 55.2 percent believe demand will remain the same during the same four-month time period, a decrease from 69.2 percent the previous month. 17.2 percent believe demand will decline, up from 11.5 percent in November.
- 24.1 percent of the respondents expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, up from 23.1 percent in November. 75.9 percent of executives indicate they expect the same access to capital to fund business, a decrease from 76.9 percent last month. None expect less access to capital, unchanged from the previous month.
- When asked, 31 percent of the executives report they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, up from 30.8 percent in November. 69 percent expect no change in headcount over the next four months, an increase from 57.7 percent last month. None expect to hire fewer employees, down from 11.5 percent in November.
- None of the leadership evaluate the current U.S. economy as excellent, unchanged from the previous month. 72.4 percent of the leadership evaluate the current U.S. economy as fair, down from 76.9 percent in November. 27.6 percent evaluate it as poor, up from 23.1 percent last month.
- 55.2 percent of the survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get better over the next six months, an increase from 34.6 percent in November. 34.5 percent indicate they believe the U.S. economy will stay the same over the next six months, a decrease from 50 percent last month. 10.3 percent believe economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, down from 15.4 percent the previous month.
- In December 34.5 percent of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, an increase from 26.9 percent last month. 62.1 percent believe there will be no change in business development spending, a decrease from 69.2 percent in October. 3.5 percent believe there will be a decrease in spending, relatively unchanged from 3.9 percent 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,” states 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,” says 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.” says Jonathan Ruga, CEO, Sentry Financial Corp.
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,” states 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,” says Vincent Belcastro, Group Head Syndications, Element Fleet Management.
To participate in the COVID-19 Impact Survey of the Equipment Finance Industry, the Foundation invites all regular ELFA member companies to participate. Survey responses are limited to one per company. If you did not receive a survey and would like to participate, please contact Stephanie Fisher, [email protected], by Dec. 31, to determine eligibility for inclusion in the 2021 Q1 survey.