The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index (MLFI-25), which reports economic activity from 25 companies representing a cross section of the $1 trillion equipment finance sector, showed their overall new business volume for December was $12.7 billion, down 1 percent year-over-year from new business volume in December 2017. Volume was up 59 percent month-to-month from $8.0 billion in November in a typical end-of-year spike. Cumulative new business volume for 2018 was up 4 percent from 2017.
Receivables over 30 days were 1.70 percent, up from 1.60 the previous month and up from 1.50 percent the same period in 2017. Charge-offs were 0.55 percent, up from 0.37 percent the previous month, and up from 0.48 in the year-earlier period.
Credit approvals totaled 77.9 percent in December, up from 77.2 percent in November. Total headcount for equipment finance companies was up 0.1 percent year over year.
Separately, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index (MCI-EFI) in January is 53.4, down from the December index of 55.5.
ELFA President and CEO Ralph Petta said, “December new business volume capped off a very good year for the equipment leasing and finance industry. Solid demand, an abundant supply of funding in the credit markets, and quality portfolios all contributed to an extremely healthy equipment finance sector in 2018. Notably, MLFI-25 respondents indicated that credit approvals were at an all-time high in December, reflecting members’ willingness to provide the necessary financing to thousands of American businesses as they take advantage of a benign economy to acquire equipment to grow and expand their operations. Most economists expect a lower-growth scenario in 2019, as a result of trade policy frictions, rising interest rates, and the current government shutdown. Whether these and other potential headwinds act as a brake on continued growth in the equipment finance sector over the next 12 months remains to be seen. What is known, however, is that ELFA members always seem to rise to the occasion to do whatever is necessary for U.S. businesses—both large and small—to acquire productive assets that drive their businesses and move the economy forward.”
Jud Snyder, President of BMO Harris Equipment Finance Company and ELFA Chairman, said, “2018 was another strong year for the equipment finance industry, as reflected in the most recent MLFI-25 data. Customers across a wide variety of industries and revenue sizes invested in their businesses last year and the equipment finance industry supported that growth. Looking forward, the primary issues we hear about from our clients revolve around global trade uncertainty and a lack of skilled labor availability. Despite those concerns, we see continued business optimism and investment in automation and capital equipment expansion throughout the early stages of 2019.”
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