United Rentals reported total revenues of $2,057 million in the first quarter of 2021 compared to $2,125 million in the first quarter of 2020, a 3.2-percent dip.
Equipment rental revenue was $1,667 million in first quarter 2021 compared to $1,783 million in the first quarter of 2020, a 6.5-percent decrease.
The general rentals segment decreased year over year to $1,273 million for the quarter. Rental gross margin increased by 20 basis points to 32.3 percent. However, the specialty rentals segment, or Trench, Power and Fluid Solutions increased 1.3 percent during the quarter to $394 million. Rental gross margin increased by 50 basis points to 42.1 percent, primarily because of decreases in temporary labor and fleet repair costs.
Net income for the quarter increased 17.3 percent year over year to $203 million, while net income margin hiked 180 basis points to 9.9 percent. The first quarter of 2020 included a $26 million non-cash asset impairment charge, not related to the coronavirus pandemic. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter decreased 4.6 percent year over year to $873 million, which adjusted EBITDA margin dropped 70 basis points to 42.4 percent.
“We were very pleased with our first quarter results and the strong start to our year, as our key end-markets continue to rebound from the challenges of 2020,” said United Rentals CEO Matthew Flannery. “Sentiment among our customers continues to improve, and we are well prepared to support them as we enter the busiest part of our season. The recovery that we’ve seen since the middle of last year remains evident across our business, and virtually all indicators point to these trends continuing. As such, we are raising our full-year guidance to reflect our expectations for stronger growth in our core rental business and increased used equipment sales. Most importantly, we are leveraging our significant competitive advantages to add value for both our customers and our investors.”
During the first quarter, United acquired Franklin Equipment, a 20-location rental company headquartered in Ohio. Subsequent to the quarter, on April 15, United agreed to acquire General Finance, a mobile storage rental specialist for $19 per share in cash, totaling $996 million including the assumption of $400 million in net debt. The acquisition is expected to close during the second quarter.
United Rentals has updated its full-year outlook, including the contribution from the acquisition of Franklin Equipment, but not including the impact of the pending acquisition of General Finance Corp. The previous expectation for total revenue in 2021 was in the range of $8.625 to $9.025 billion. Now the company is expecting revenue within the range of $9.05 billion to $9.45 billion.
United Rentals, based in Stamford, Conn., is No. 1 on the RER 100.