Plant hire firm helps storm clean-up

Cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy last November has led to booming revenues in the US for the plant-hire company Ashtead.

Its shares rose 7 per cent, or 36.5p, to 561p as Ashtead, which rents everything from small tools to large diggers, more than doubled pre-tax profits to £53.8m in the three months to January and raised its full-year expectations. Ashtead saw revenues from its US arm, Sunbelt, rise 27 per cent, largely thanks to the recovery operations.

"With this momentum clearly established in the business, we now anticipate a full-year profit ahead of our earlier expectations," Geoff Drabble, the chief executive, said.

Ashtead, which trades in the UK under the name A-Plant,has benefited as customers shy away from buying and maintaining expensive equipment and hire it instead.