June 18, 2019 / 6:23 AM / 6 months ago

Ashtead annual profit rises 17% on Sunbelt growth

(Reuters) - Equipment rental company Ashtead Group Plc said on Tuesday its full-year profit rose 17% as its U.S. Sunbelt business benefited from higher demand for industrial gear.

The FTSE-100 company, which rents out diggers, construction tools and other equipment, said underlying pretax profit rose to 1.11 billion pounds ($1.39 billion) in the year ended April 30, from 927.3 million pounds a year earlier.

Total revenue at Sunbelt U.S. increased 20% to $4.99 billion from a year earlier, driving a 19% rise in the group’s overall revenue at 4.50 billion pounds ($5.64 billion). The results were broadly in line with market estimates, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

The company also benefited from Brexit-driven weakness in the pound, which has helped increase the value of dollar revenues from the United States.

The pound, which has fallen 15% against the dollar since the referendum in June 2016, tumbled to a 5-1/2-month low of $1.2532 on Monday on rising worries Boris Johnson, the front-runner to replace UK Prime Minister Theresa May, could put Britain on a path towards a dreaded no-deal Brexit.

Shares of Ashtead, which gets nearly 90% of its revenue from the United States, have fallen over 17% in the last 12 months weighed down by worries over a U.S.-China trade dispute and fears of an economic slowdown in the United States.

Reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Gopakumar Warrier

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