Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s Survey of Economic Activity: Monthly Leasing and Finance Index

December New Business Volume Down 6 Percent Year-over-year, Up 66 Percent Month-to-Month, and Down Almost 6 Percent at Year-End

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 $900 billion equipment finance sector, showed their overall new business volume for December was $12.1 billion, down 6 percent year-over-year from new business volume in December 2019. Volume was up 66 percent month-to-month from $7.3 billion in November in a typical end-of-year spike. Cumulative new business volume for 2020 was down almost 6 percent compared to 2019.
Receivables over 30 days were 2.20 percent, down from 2.30 percent the previous month and unchanged from the same period in 2019. Charge-offs were 0.59 percent, down from 0.61 percent the previous month and up from 0.51 percent in the year-earlier period.

Credit approvals totaled 75.2 percent, up from 70.4 percent in November. Total headcount for equipment finance companies was down 4.6 percent year-over-year.

Separately, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index (MCI-EFI) in January is 59.6, unchanged from the December index.

ELFA President and CEO Ralph Petta said, “While 2020 certainly presented serious challenges to our nation’s economic well-being as well as to the physical well-being of many of our citizens, the equipment finance business, overall, showed remarkable resilience and durability. In early 2020, our industry seemed poised to continue 2019’s strong performance, as measured by a variety of key metrics. Then, the pandemic hit. Our nation suffered a shock of unimaginable and historic proportions. The economy faltered, millions of Americans lost their jobs, and a raging health pandemic threatened the very lives of so many. Now, looking in the rearview mirror, at the start of a new year that brings such hope and promise—with new stimulus initiatives coming out of Washington and distribution of a vaccine designed to protect our people—most equipment finance sector observers would consider a single-digit decline in year-over-year new business volume tolerable, if not acceptable. In fact, anecdotal reports from some ELFA member organizations indicate that 2020 was a record year! This speaks to the strength and resilience of our industry as it equips American businesses to succeed and prosper.”

Walter Rabin, Chief Executive Officer, Signature Financial LLC, said, “The new year provides a chance to reflect upon 2020’s unprecedented events and look forward to opportunities ahead. While the health and safety of our colleagues and clients remained paramount as the pandemic surged, Signature Financial continued its growth trajectory, exceeding $5 billion in its portfolio at year-end. As demonstrated by the MLFI-25 showing only a 6 percent decrease in year-over-year volume, the industry remained resilient in generating capital essential to sustain the U.S. economy amid the pandemic-affected economy. With rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine now accelerating and additional stimulus in the near-term, we anticipate 2021 offering new business growth opportunities and improved confidence.”

About ELFA’s MLFI-25
The MLFI-25 is the only index that reflects capex, or the volume of commercial equipment financed in the U.S. The MLFI-25 is released globally at 8 a.m. Eastern time from Washington, D.C., each month on the day before the U.S. Department of Commerce releases the durable goods report. The MLFI-25 is a financial indicator that complements the durable goods report and other economic indexes, including the Institute for Supply Management Index, which reports economic activity in the manufacturing sector. Together with the MLFI-25 these reports provide a complete view of the status of productive assets in the U.S. economy: equipment produced, acquired and financed.

The MLFI-25 is a time series that reflects two years of business activity for the 25 companies currently participating in the survey. The latest MLFI-25, including methodology and participants, is available at www.elfaonline.org/Data/MLFI/.

MLFI-25 Methodology
ELFA produces the MLFI-25 survey to help member organizations achieve competitive advantage by providing them with leading-edge research and benchmarking information to support strategic business decision making.

The MLFI-25 is a barometer of the trends in U.S. capital equipment investment. Five components are included in the survey: new business volume (originations), aging of receivables, charge-offs, credit approval ratios, (approved vs. submitted) and headcount for the equipment finance business.

The MLFI-25 measures monthly commercial equipment lease and loan activity as reported by participating ELFA member equipment finance companies representing a cross section of the equipment finance sector, including small ticket, middle-market, large ticket, bank, captive and independent leasing and finance companies. Based on hard survey data, the responses mirror the economic activity of the broader equipment finance sector and current business conditions nationally.

About ELFA
The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) is the trade association that represents companies in the nearly $1 trillion equipment finance sector, which includes financial services companies and manufacturers engaged in financing capital goods. ELFA members are the driving force behind the growth in the commercial equipment finance market and contribute to capital formation in the U.S. and abroad. Its 575 members include independent and captive leasing and finance companies, banks, financial services corporations, broker/packagers and investment banks, as well as manufacturers and service providers. For more information, please visit www.elfaonline.org.

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ELFA is the premier source for statistics and analyses concerning the equipment finance sector. Please visit www.elfaonline.org/Data/ for additional information.

The 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 charitable individual and corporate donations. Learn more at www.leasefoundation.org.

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