Ashtead raises year profit target after strong third quarter


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The Independent Online

Equipment hire specialist Ashtead raised its full year profit target today on the back of strong demand both here and in the United States.

Shares in the company climbed more than 8 per cent to 916p after it posted a 54 per cent jump in third quarter profits to £77.9 million. The group now makes about 85% of its revenue from its US division, Sunbelt, but has also benefited from growth in its UK business, A-Plant.

“We’ve had three good years of growth,” chief executive Geoff Drabble said. “What we are very fortunate to be able to do is build on that momentum during the downturn, and carrying that into recovering markets ought to make us a lot fitter and a lot healthier.”

Ashtead specialises in hiring out equipment such as diggers on short-term contracts and has a fleet worth about $3.4 billion (£2 billion).

City experts had expected the company’s profits to be about £250 million during the year ending April 30, although this could be beaten.

Panmure analyst Paul Jones said: “Another sparkling update from Ashtead, delivering results above and beyond expectations by some way. The company continues to enjoy the effects of increases in fleet size and initial rate increases, and we expect further organic growth.”