Ashtead maintains outlook as profits jump 25%

Ashtead Group maintained its outlook on full-year performance exceeding expectations as first-half pre-tax profit increase by quarter on the back of stronger rental revenue growth in North America.

In the six months to 31 October, statutory profit before tax rose 25% to £610.0m, group revenues rose 19% to £2.25bn and underlying earnings (EBITDA) rose by 19% to £1.099bn.

The upbeat performance was driven by strong growth in each of the company's divisions as Sunbelt US, A-Plant and Sunbelt Canada delivered 19%, 5% and 90% rental only revenue growth, respectively.

In the UK, however, adverse rental yield hurt performance, which the company blamed on a competitive rate environment in the UK market.

The interim dividend was raised 18% to 6.5p per share from 5.5p a year earlier.

'The Group delivered a strong quarter with good performance across the Group. As a result, Group rental revenue increased 18% for the six months and underlying pre-tax profit increased 19% to £633m, both at constant exchange rates,' said Ashtead's chief executive, Geoff Drabble.

'We have invested £1,063m in capital and a further £362m on bolt-on acquisitions in the period which has added 80 locations and resulted in a rental fleet growth of 15%. This investment reflects the structural growth opportunity that we continue to see in the business as we broaden our product offering and geographic reach, and increase market share.'

'Our business is performing well in supportive end markets. Accordingly, we expect full year results to be ahead of our prior expectations and the Board continues to look to the medium term with confidence.'