Ashtead Says Full-Year Results May Exceed Its Forecasts

Ashtead Group Plc, the U.K. construction-equipment rental company operating the Sunbelt Rentals and A-Plant brands, said full-year results may exceed its forecasts because of stronger revenue in North America.

“We will beat our own forecasts,” Chief Executive Officer Geoff Drabble said in a phone interview today. “The key story is North America, when demand is uncertain and finance is tight, people are renting instead of buying fleets.”

Drabble added that the North American construction industry “has clearly bottomed and we expect to see a gentle recovery starting in 2011.” About 80 percent of Ashtead’s sales are in the U.S., he said.

Revenue in the fiscal third quarter for the three months to Jan. 31 rose to 221.4 million pounds ($358 million) from 187.3 million pounds a year earlier, the London-based company said in a Regulatory News Service statement. The net loss narrowed to 1.2 million pounds from 9.2 million pounds.

Ashtead shares advanced 15.5 pence, or 8.3 percent, to 202 pence at the 4:30 p.m. close in London, giving the company a market value of 1.02 billion pounds.

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