Belfast Telegraph

Ashtead helped by hurricanes and weak pound

In a first-half trading update, the group – which operates across the UK, US and Canada – said revenue rose 19% to £1.9 billion.

Equipment rental group Ashtead got a boost from the weak pound and high demand in the US for its fleet after devastating damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

In a first-half trading update, the group – which operates across the UK, US and Canada – said revenue rose 19% to £1.9 billion.

The natural disasters contributed incremental rental revenue of $40-45 million, Ashtead said, while the company added that the results were “impacted favourably by weaker sterling”.

Pre-tax profit grew 16% to £493.1 million in the period.

Chief executive Geoff Drabble said: “The strong quarter was pleasing as it was based on good underlying performance, supplemented by clean-up efforts following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

“The reported results were impacted favourably by weaker sterling but, with 20% growth in group rental revenue at constant exchange rates, we have good momentum.”

Ashtead is the second largest equipment rental business in the US, hiring out diggers and tools for the construction and industrial sectors.

Its Sunbelt business operates across 646 locations in the US and in Canada and employs 10,610 staff.

In the UK, Ashtead is the market leader and has 189 locations nationwide and 3,546 employees.

The firm also announced that it is to launch a share buyback of at least £500 million and up to £1 billion over the next 18 months, as well as the retirement of chairman Chris Cole, who has headed the group since 2007.

Shares were up 4% in morning trading.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “International equipment rental group Ashtead topped the blue-chip board in early trading after it raised its full-year guidance.

“Activity is likely to return to more normal levels in the second half but Ashtead is on course to report full-year figures ahead of its previous forecasts.”

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