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Ashtead issues positive first half results

Ashtead, owner of Sunbelt in the USA and A-Plant in the UK has reported improved revenues and profits.

Group revenues for the first half were up 9.5 percent to £484.3 million, while pre-tax profits increased by more than 25 percent to £23.6 million.

The group also substantially increased its capital expenditure from £29 million in the first half of 2009 to £96 million this year, of this £84 million was for new rental units. The average age of the group’s fleet at the end of the period was 44 months, up from 39 months at the same time last year. The company says that it will spend around £225 million for the year as a whole.

In the USA Sunbelt revenues increased almost seven percent to $615 million, while operating income was up 24 percent to $99 million. The group sold off £24 million of used equipment reducing net expenditure to £72 million.

In the UK A-Plant saw revenues slipped two percent to £82 million, while operating income increased 35 percent to £4.2 million.

Strong cash flow at Ashtead allowed it to reduce its net debt by £20 million in addition to funding its capital expenditure.

Ashtead chief executive Geoff Drabble said: "In this, the second consecutive quarter in which we have delivered good profit growth, it was pleasing to see rental revenues accelerating with growth of 9% in the US. In the UK there were improving trends throughout the first half and, whilst the UK market remains difficult, this was also encouraging."

"Clearly end markets remain fragile. However, increased reliance on rental by our customers particularly in the US, together with continuing market share gains, is supporting our performance, a trend we expect to continue."

"As we enter the seasonally weaker winter period precise forecasting can be difficult. However, the momentum we have established during the year has continued into November and will, we expect, be sufficient to ensure a full year outcome ahead of our earlier expectations."


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