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 $903 billion equipment finance sector, showed their overall new business volume for February was $6.1 billion, up 13 percent from new business volume in February 2014. Volume was down 9 percent from January. Year to date, cumulative new business volume increased 12 percent compared to 2014.
Receivables over 30 days were 1.1 percent, unchanged from the previous month and from the same period in 2014. Charge-offs were at an all-time low of 0.2 percent for the 12th consecutive month.
Credit approvals totaled 78.1 percent in February, down slightly from 78.6 percent in January. Total headcount for equipment finance companies was up 3.0 percent year over year.
Separately, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation's Monthly Confidence Index (MCI-EFI) for March is 72.1, an increase from the February index of 66.3 and the highest level in four years.
ELFA President and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE, said: "February's new business growth reflects a U.S. economy that seems to be on the verge of a breakout performance. Most metrics measuring economic health are positive, although the strong dollar is negatively impacting our export markets. Capex shows favorable growth, particularly in certain market sectors. The wild card, of course, is U.S. monetary policy, with the Fed poised to raise interest rates in the not-too-distant future. While higher interest rates typically favor the fixed-rate structure of most equipment finance transactions, it remains to be seen if volume growth can be sustained going forward."
Brian Holland, President and CFO, Fleet Advantage, LLC, said, "The results of the MLFI report and increase in year-over-year new business volume are reflective of our results and what we are seeing in the market. In the transportation sector, order volume for Class 8 trucks continues to be very robust, and newer technologies and government mandates are driving improved fuel economy. By leveraging flexible leasing solutions to acquire newer, more fuel-efficient equipment, fleet operators are able to capture significant operational savings and achieve the lowest cost of ownership. We continue to see increased optimism and confidence in this sector and maintain a positive outlook for 2015."