Sunbelt shines on Ashtead as it raises its annual profit forecasts

INDUSTRIAL equipment hire firm Ashtead yesterday posted record first-half profit of £141m, as it lifted its profit expectations for the full year.

First-half profit for Ashtead, which makes 85 per cent of its revenue from US arm Sunbelt, was up 64 per cent from £84m over the same period last year.

Strong growth on rents and yields in the US boosted profits, as companies across the pond increasingly rented equipment.

As a result, Ashtead posted a 17 per cent increase in revenue from US-based Sunbelt to £576.8m over the six months to October.

Revenue for the group over the period came in at £680.4m, up 17 per cent year on year.

Ashtead chief executive Geoff Drabble said yesterday: “With this momentum clearly established in the business we now anticipate a full year profit ahead of our earlier expectations.”

He added that the firm remained “well-placed” to see growth over the medium term, from either a structural shift towards companies renting equipment rather than owning it, or economic recovery.

Analysts at Canaccord Genuity said in a note yesterday that they expect the trend – of Sunbelt taking market share – to continue.

Ashtead shares closed down 0.23 per cent yesterday.