Ashstead Shares Rise as Superstorm Sandy Generates Work

Ashtead Group Plc, a U.K. construction-equipment rental company with most of its business in the U.S., rose to a record on the expectation it will gain sales helping to clear up in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

The shares climbed 2.3 percent to 373 pence in London, the highest price in at least 23 years, extending the gain this year to 65 percent.

“It is good news for Ashtead, but it is not dial changing,” Andrew Nussey, an analyst at Peel Hunt who has a buy recommendation on the stock, said in an interview. “Companies like Ashtead benefit from storm-related activity.”

Sandy was the biggest Atlantic storm in history, spanning an area broader than Texas, and caused at least 50 U.S. deaths, according to the Associated Press. Losses from the storm may total as much as $20 billion, according to Eqecat Inc., a risk-management company in Oakland, California.

The storm left more than 8.2 million electricity customers without power in 20 states from South Carolina to Maine and as far west as Michigan and Indiana, according to the U.S. Energy Department. In New Jersey, 65 percent were without power, and in Connecticut, 31 percent were blacked out, the department said.

Ashtead said Sept. 4 that profit for the year ending April 30 would be “materially better” than previously forecast as construction activity in the U.S. picked up.

The company had 945.7 million pounds ($1.52 billion) of sales in North America in the fiscal year ended April 30, about 83 percent of its total revenue, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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