Ashtead gains as more builders rent equipment

 
City A.M. Reporter
INDUSTRIAL equipment hire firm Ashtead more than quadrupled its annual profit and upgraded expectations for this year as slow construction markets push a growing number of cash-strapped customers to rent rather than buy equipment.

The British firm, which makes over 80 per cent of revenue from its US business Sunbelt, yesterday posted a pre-tax profit of £130.6m for the year to 30 April.

Shares in the FTSE-250 firm, which had started the day up 41 per cent on their price a year ago, closed 1.76 per cent up at 254.80p.

Ashtead, which hires out equipment from diggers to small tools, said clients looking to save cash by renting rather than buying expensive equipment in slow markets had boosted profit.

Full-year revenue at Ashtead’s US Sunbelt business grew 23 per cent to £945.7m, and the group said it was focused on expanding its footprint this year mainly through organic growth, although options for small bolt-on acquisitions were increasing. In the UK, rental revenue at its A-Plant business grew by nine per cent and Ashtead said its ability to invest when others can’t meant it would grow profit again this year despite its dismal outlook for the country, exacerbated by continental Europe.