A record third quarter for Ashtead

By Maria Hadlow06 March 2012

For its third quarter (ending 31 January 2012) The Ashtead Group has reported record profits, and good progress across the board - particularly for its USA Sunbelt division.

Ashtead's chief executive, Geoff Drabble, said, "Once again, we are pleased to report a strong set of results. Our record third quarter pre-tax profit of £21m (2011: £2m loss), whilst undoubtedly being helped by favourable weather conditions, is predominantly due to the continuation of the momentum we have established over recent quarters.

"We continue to invest strongly in organic growth, with our rental fleet now being 11% larger and an average of five months younger than a year ago. However, with a continued focus on margin improvement, this investment has been accompanied by a reduction in net debt to EBITDA leverage to 2.5 times (2011: 2.8 times)."

In the last nine months of trading Sunbelt has generated a revenue of £708.5 million - an increase of 21% and A-Plant's revenue went up 14% to £138.3 million. Both divisions showed an operating profit up more than 70% over the same period in 2011 Sunbelt's to £143.5million and A-Plant's to £5.4million.

Ashtead said it has continued to invest heavily to support growth: capital expenditure for the nine months was £336m gross and £276m net of disposal proceeds. As a result the average age of the Group's rental fleet at 31 January 2012 was 40 months (2011: 45 months). Sunbelt's fleet size at 31 January of $2.3bn was 10% larger than a year earlier whilst average nine month utilisation grew to 72% (2011: 69%).

For this fiscal year Ashtead anticipates spending around £425m and the plan for next year is £500m.

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