Ashtead share price rises as demand for rental equipment grows in its key North American market

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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Ashtead rents out heavy machinery (Source: Getty)

Ashtead's profit for the year to the end of April jumped as its core North American business grew.

The figures

The industrials equipment hire group posted a seven per cent rise in underlying pre-tax profit to £793.4m, slightly ahead of expectations.

Underlying rental revenue at constant currency jumped 13 per cent to £2.9bn.

Ashtead announced a proposed final dividend of 27.5p for the full year, up 22 per cent from the previous year.

Investors were pleased with the results as shares lifted 2.5 per cent to 1,682p in morning trading.

Read more: Ashtead given boost by US economic resurgence

Why it's interesting

Ashtead, which rents heavy machinery, was seen to benefit from Donald Trump's planned boost to infrastructure spending, but in recent months investor sentiment has cooled amid worries this might not materialise, according to Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

However, Hyett noted that Ashtead doesn't seem to be fazed. "The group is continuing to roll-out new stores across North America, and demand looks to be more than keeping up, with the amount of fleet on rent breaking seasonal records."

The group has benefited from sterling weakness as well, as 87 per cent of its revenue is made in the US.

Ashtead said it is confident about its performance and plans over the medium-term.

The American Rental Association has forecast that US equipment rental revenue will grow 4.5 per cent in 2017 to $49.4bn (£38.9bn), according to Reuters.

What Ashtead said

Ashtead's chief executive, Geoff Drabble, said there is "structural change" in the market as customers increasingly rely on the flexibility of rental equipment.

"We continue to execute well on our strategy to support these changes through a combination of organic growth and bolt-on acquisitions.

"Looking forward, our markets remain good and spring has seen a good seasonal uplift in fleet on rent, with record levels of physical utilisation for this time of year. We expect a similar level of capital expenditure in 2017/18, consistent with our 2021 strategic plan," Drabble said.

Based on our plans we will, once again, see strong free cash flow which will provide us with further flexibility to enhance shareholder value. So, with both divisions performing well and a strong balance sheet to support our plans, the board continues to look to the medium term with confidence.

Read more: Ashtead shares pop on double-digit rental revenue

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