A+ for Ashtead Group after sparkling Q1

SPARKLING first quarter results has prompted Ashtead Group, the listed parent of Warrington equipment and industrial vehicle hire group A-Plant,  to upgrade its full year expectations.

The company, which also owns Sunbelt in the US,  said rental revenues in the three months to the end of July had risen 22% to £417.7m, while profits in the period were up 33% to a record £120.4m.

Although Birchwood-based A-Plant is considerably smaller than Sunbelt, Ashtead said it “continues to perform well” and delivered total rental revenue of £72m, up 19% on the prior year. Last week it announced that it was investing £15m in upgrading its fleet of  powered and low level access machines.

Ashtead’s chief executive, Geoff Drabble said: “We are pleased to report another strong quarter as we continue to capitalise on recovering markets and take further market share in both Sunbelt and A-Plant.  Sunbelt delivered 22% rental revenue growth and A-Plant 19% which, together with a focus on operational efficiency, helped to deliver record underlying pre-tax profits of £120m.

“Given the momentum evident in the business, we are increasing our full year guidance for capital expenditure to a range of £825m to £875m.  While we continue to invest heavily in the business, our strong margins allow us to do this while maintaining our leverage discipline. As a result of this strong performance, and with a strong balance sheet to support future growth, we now anticipate a full year result ahead of our previous expectations.”