Ashtead Group PLC, parent company of Charlotte, N.C.-based Sunbelt Rentals, lost about U.S. $2.9 million in its latest fiscal year ended April 30, according to British wire service reports. The loss was noteworthy following a year in which it posted a profit of about $45.9 million before goodwill amortization and other exceptional items.
Including one-time charges, the gross loss was about $67 million. Exceptional items included about $26.7 million related to last year’s accounting irregularities involving Sunbelt. The figure also included a charge for rationalization in the United Kingdom and about $11.9 million in advisory fees for Ashtead’s debt restructuring.
At the end of April, Ashtead’s liabilities were about $988.6 million, down from about $1.08 billion 12 months earlier.
The Ashtead Group, which defaulted on its banking covenants in March, confirmed it wouldn’t be paying a dividend for the year, making it the first time in the company’s 12-year history that investors failed to receive a payout from the firm. “The group has had to confront unprecedented internal difficulties in the United States against a background of the worst trading conditions in at least a decade,” said Ashtead chairman Henry Staunton, referring to balance sheet errors that led to the suspension of a senior member of Sunbelt’s accounting staff.
However, Staunton added that company management had “drawn a line” under the accounting issues at Sunbelt, and with renegotiated bank facilities was well-positioned to take advantage of “significant operating leverage” as economic conditions improved.
Ashtead is one of the U.K.’s largest equipment rental companies and owns A-Plant in the U.K. and Sunbelt in the United States. The two companies have a combined 460 branches. Sunbelt is No. 4 on the RER 100.