Ashtead Posts First Half Improvement as Sunbelt Rentals Shows Gains

Sunbelt Rentals increased revenue 6.7 percent in its fiscal first half ended Oct. 31, posting $615 million compared with $576.1 million for the same period a year ago. For Ashtead plc, Sunbelt’s parent company, including U.K. rental company A-Plant, fiscal first-half revenue totaled £484.3 million (about U.S. $765 million), a 5-percent jump compared with £439.4 million for the year-ago period.

The results reflect gradually improving conditions in the United States, with Sunbelt’s rental revenues growing 4 percent in the first half from $534 million a year ago to $557 million this year, despite a 14-percent decline in U.S. non-residential construction. Sunbelt’s rental revenue growth reflected 4-percent more fleet on rent compared with 2009 and a 1-percent increase in yield, year over year. Yield improved 3 percent year over year in the second quarter

In the U.K., A-Plant’s first-half rental revenues declined 2 percent to £77 million, compared with £79 million for the year-ago half.

Capital expenditure on fleet in the first half increased to £96 million (about U.S. $151.6 million), compared to £29 million for the same period in 2009.

“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 percent in the U.S.,” said Ashtead chief executive Geoff Drabble. “In the U.K., there were improving trends throughout the first half and, whilst the U.K. market remains difficult, this was also encouraging. “Clearly end markets remain fragile. However, increased reliance on rental by our customers particularly in the United States, together with continuing market share gains, is supporting our performance, a trend we expect to continue.”

Sunbelt Rentals, based in Fort Mill, S.C., is No. 3 on the RER 100.

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