U.S. businesses and government agencies will finance more than $742 billion in equipment acquisitions in 2013, according to the U.S. Equipment Finance Market Study 2012-2013, released today by the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation (ELFA).
Conducted by IHS, the study provides a comprehensive look at the size and expected growth of the U.S. equipment finance market. According to the study, the equipment finance sector has emerged from the recession with finance volumes at an all-time high, as a result of double-digit growth in equipment investment and a favorable interest rate environment. However, equipment finance volumes are expected to expand at a more moderate pace over the next 12 to 18 months as equipment investment growth remains constrained by uncertainties at home and abroad. Companies are expected to remain cautious about taking on the risks associated with large capital investments until after important tax and regulatory decisions impacting short- and long-term fiscal stability have been made.
“The Foundation is delighted to present this essential study, which illustrates that the equipment finance industry is a critical source of funding for U.S. businesses,” said Cameron Krueger, chairman of the ELFA and director and national asset finance & leasing practice leader at Deloitte. “The data provides a fresh and comprehensive picture of the domestic equipment finance sector and how it contributes to the U.S. economy.”
“Equipment financing plays a significant role in helping businesses acquire the equipment they need,” said William G. Sutton, CAE, president of ELFA. “The equipment finance sector not only contributes to businesses’ success, but to U.S. economic growth, manufacturing, and jobs. This study reveals the importance of resolving political and regulatory uncertainty so businesses can feel more confident about their futures and invest in capital equipment and job creation.”
Highlights from the U.S. Equipment Finance Market Study 2012-2013 include:
* In 2012, equipment finance volume returned to pre-recession levels, with the 2012 estimate for the equipment finance market expected to reach $725 billion. The market is expected to expand over the next two years; however, the growth rate is expected to slow.
* The equipment finance sector is a significant contributor to capital formation in the U.S. economy. Of the projected $1.3 trillion invested in plant, equipment and software in 2013, 55%, or $742 billion, of that investment is expected to be financed through loans, leases and lines of credit. In 2014, the market size is projected to grow to $778 billion.
* Seventy-two percent of companies use some form of financing when acquiring equipment, including loans, leases and lines of credit (excluding credit cards). Companies with less than $1 million in revenues use financing in 49% of their equipment acquisitions, while companies with revenues between $25 million and $100 million use financing in 86% of their acquisitions.
* Companies with sales between $25 million and $100 million doubled their share of financing volume from 2006 — when the Foundation’s first market-sizing study was conducted – to 2011. Companies with fewer than 51 employees also doubled their share equipment acquisition via financing in this time period. This may be in part a reflection of the difficulty in obtaining other forms of credit for these segments of the market.
* Cash as a method of purchasing declined for large companies from 2007 to 2012 as larger companies enjoyed greater access to credit markets. In the current low-interest-rate environment, financing equipment acquisitions is especially attractive.
* Corporate perceptions of the economic outlook are the primary driver behind equipment investment decisions. When presented with a list of potential factors that will drive future investment spending, companies surveyed by the Foundation overwhelmingly chose “general economic conditions.” The financing decisions of smaller companies are especially sensitive to general economic conditions.
* Even with the relatively high degree of uncertainty over the economy and regulations/fiscal policy, nearly 30% of companies surveyed anticipated increasing their equipment investment over the next 12 months. This group of companies is disproportionately represented by large companies. For example, among companies with sales over $100 million, 51% indicated they would increase spending, yet only 17% of businesses with sales less than $1 million had similar plans.
* Over the next 12 to 18 months, businesses faced with rising uncertainty over the economy and regulatory policies are expected to be more cautious about spending on equipment and software, as well as taking on more credit. The silver lining to this cloud is that technological innovation and equipment replacement needs should spur rapid growth in volume in late 2014 and beyond.
About the Study
U.S. Equipment Finance Market Study 2012-2013 was conducted by IHS for the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, an independent organization that publishes research for the equipment leasing and finance industry. The study draws on data from a number of sources, including the Federal Reserve Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices, the Federal Reserve Flow of Funds, the 2012 Monitor 100, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s 2012 Survey of Equipment Finance Activity, the IHS Equipment Market Monitor, and surveys conducted by the Foundation. A key input came from a custom survey of businesses that purchased equipment in 2011. The survey was conducted in August and September of 2012 by IHS on behalf of the Foundation. Responses were collected from 427 businesses, of which 372 acquired business equipment in 2011. For the purposes of the study, equipment financing refers to retail or end-user financing of equipment and software. The financing market estimates reflect lending to businesses and government agencies.
How to Access the Study
The U.S. Equipment Finance Market Study 2012-2013 is available for purchase at www.LeaseFoundation.org. The executive summary and fact sheet are available for free download at www.leasefoundation.org/IndRsrcs/MO/USMkts.