|Master Investor Magazine
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The share price of industrial equipment rental firm Ashtead (LON:AHT) rose by 3.65%, to 2,033p (as of 13:25 BST), after it reported a 20% increase in profits before tax for the year ended 30th April. Revenues for the year were up by 19%, with the firm’s operations in North America performing very well.
Chief executive Brendan Horgan commented: “We continue to experience strong end markets in North America and are executing well on our strategy of organic growth supplemented by targeted bolt-on acquisitions. We invested £1.6bn in capital and a further £622m on bolt-on acquisitions in the period, which has added 146 locations across the Group. This investment reflects the structural growth opportunity that we continue to see in the business as we broaden our product offering, geographic reach and end markets, thus increasing market share and diversifying our business.
We remain focused on responsible growth. Our increasing scale and strong margins are delivering good earnings growth and significant free cash flow generation. This provides significant operational and financial flexibility, enabling us to invest in the long-term structural growth opportunity and enhance returns to shareholders, while maintaining leverage within our target range of 1.5 to 2.0 times net debt to EBITDA. We have spent £675m under our share buyback programme announced in December 2017, which has now concluded, and expect to spend a minimum of £500m on share buybacks in 2019/20.
Our business continues to perform well in supportive end markets. Looking forward, we anticipate a similar level of capital expenditure in 2019/20, consistent with our strategic plan. So, with our business performing well and a strong balance sheet to support our plans, the Board continues to look to the medium term with confidence“.