For the past several months, I’ve spent much of my time discussing the feeling among many Big IRON equipment manufacturers that the good sales times may be coming to an end in 2014. In a nutshell, most folks I’ve spoken with believe that lower commodity prices and continuing uncertainty in many sectors of the economy will “slow down” or “completely chill” the buying culture of the past few years among ag retailers.
Naturally, I’ve been looking for clear signs this slowdown was in the works. But I haven’t seen it so far. In fact, there are some signs just the opposite of a slowdown is taking place.
For example, in April, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation released its latest Monthly Confidence Index. Looking at prevailing business conditions and expectations, the report found overall confidence in the equipment finance market at 65.1 — the highest number achieved by the index in the past two years. More impressively, 97% of those surveyed for the index believed business conditions for equipment would “improve or remain the same” over the next four months. Only 3% foresaw some kind of a slowdown over this same period.
“The first quarter of 2014 had positive results with respect to new business activity, and the economy is on a positive trajectory,” said Thomas Jaschik, president of BB&T Equipment Finance, in the survey. “The conclusion of the winter of 2013-14 may by the catalyst for pent-up demand to begin to be released. This will have a positive impact on the equipment finance market throughout 2014.”
It will be interesting to see just how much of this “positive outlook” impacts the Big IRON market as well.