Ashtead Group shares shot up this morning, as it announced it has has maintained its dividend to shareholders, despite profit having halved in the most recent quarter as the company battled the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Shares in the construction equipment rental group rose 12 per cent this morning as it hailed a “resilient” performance, despite a sudden fall in construction activity as lockdowns were imposed on both sides of the Atlantic.
Pre-tax profit fell 52 per cent to £98m in the three months to 30 April, leaving full-year profit down seven per cent year-on-year.
Fourth quarter revenue fell two per cent to £1.1bn, but full year turnover still rose by nearly a tenth.
A proposed final dividend of 33.5p was announced a year ago, and remained this morning. It means the total payout of 40.65p for the full year is up 1.6 per cent on the previous year.
The group generated free cash flow of £792m during the year, a record for the business.
However, net debt also rose to £5.36bn, considerably more than last year’s figure of £3.74bn.