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 $725 billion equipment finance sector, showed overall new business volume for February was $4.7 billion, down 6 percent from volume of $5 billion in February 2012. Month-over-month, new business volume was down 20 percent from January. Year to date, cumulative new business volume was up 5 percent compared to 2012.
Receivables over 30 days increased to 2 percent in February, up from 1.8 percent in January. They were down from 2.5 percent in the same period in 2012. Charge-offs were up slightly at 0.4 percent from their all-time low of 0.3 percent the previous month.
Credit approvals totaled 77.4 percent in February, down 1 percent from January. Fifty-three percent of participating organizations reported submitting more transactions for approval during February, down from 55 percent the previous month.
Finally, total headcount for equipment finance companies was down 3.5 percent from the previous month, and decreased 2.9 percent year over year, largely due to a change in reporting by one survey participant.
Separately, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation's Monthly Confidence Index (MCI-EFI) for March is 58, a slight decrease from the February index of 58.7, reflecting a leveling off in industry participants’ optimism after two consecutive increases.
"It is too early to tell whether February’s decline in new business volume signals a longer-term trend spurred by economic uncertainty, sequestration and unresolved fiscal matters, or is a one-time development that needs to be closely monitored," said ELFA President and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE. "Recent internal and external economic indicators and analyses point to a moderately sluggish beginning to the year, to be followed by a pick-up in overall economic activity in the second half of the year. February’s somewhat disappointing data could very well provide concrete evidence of this forecast.”
“The government’s inability to manage the finances of the country appears to be affecting the current recovery," said Hugh Connelly, President, Univest Capital, Inc. "Small business owners want to know the tax and regulatory rules within which they must operate. Until the government determines the attributes of the economic landscape, volatility will continue to unsettle the economy, and a lasting recovery will remain elusive.”