Ashtead profit boosted by US recovery

City A.M. Reporter
Industrial equipment hire firm Ashtead raised its annual earnings guidance after first quarter profits almost doubled, helped by strong growth at its US business.

The British firm, which makes over 80 per cent of revenue from its US unit Sunbelt, said today that its underlying pre-tax profit rose 82 per cent to £61.4m in the three months to the end of July. Revenues rose 18 per cent to £325m.

"The markets in which we operate have performed as anticipated with gently improving conditions in the US and a more challenging outlook in the UK," said Ashtead chief executive Geoff Drabble.

"Given the momentum established in the business, we now anticipate a full-year result materially ahead of our previous expectations."

The company was previously expected to report an average pre-tax profit of £162.2m the year to the end of April 2013, according to poll of analysts.

The company said slow construction markets continued to push cash-strapped customers to rent rather than buy expensive industrial equipment.

Ashtead, which hires out equipment from diggers to small tools, said first quarter sales at Sunbelt rose a quarter to £275.3m.