Ashtead bucks down trend with strong profits from US market

PLANT hire group Ashtead yesterday posted a big jump in pre-tax profits for its first quarter, buoyed by strong growth in its US business.

Profits for the three months to the end of July were up 82 per cent from the last quarter to a record £61.4m.

The FTSE 250 company’s US subsidiary Sunbelt, a rental company from which Ashtead makes more than 80 per cent of its revenue, grew its sales by 24 per cent to £275m.

Capital expenditure came in at a higher £223m, but Ashtead added that the rental fleet was 14 per cent larger than the year previously.

Chief executive Geoff Drabble yesterday said the “gently improving conditions” in the US had flattered profits, although he added that the outlook in the UK was “more challenging”.

The firm, which rents out construction equipment, said it expected full-year results to be “materially ahead” of previous expectations.

Meanwhile, at Ashtead’s AGM yesterday, all resolutions were passed.

Its shares closed up 11.82 per cent at 315.90p. The share price has more than doubled in a year.