Industrial equipment rental firmAshtead(LSE: AHT) is surging this morning after the company unveiled an impressive set of second quarter results. Additionally, the group issued an upbeat trading outlook as Ashtead continued to benefit from the recovering construction market within its two key markets; the UK and US.
Ashteads second quarter pre-tax profit increased by 33% to 141.7m, compared to a pre-tax profit of 110.4m as reported in the year ago period. Earnings per share jumped to 18p for the quarter, up 34% year on year. Further, management noted that the strong demand for Ashteads services has continued into November and now the company expects a full year result ahead of its previous expectations.
As a result of Ashteads strong performance and outlook, management hiked the companys interim dividend payout by 33%.
Ashteads chief executive, Geoff Drabble, commented:
The Group delivered another strong quarter with record underlying pre-tax profitsWith both divisions performing well, recovering end markets, and a proven track record of market share gains, we now anticipate a full year result ahead of our previous expectations.
A price worth paying?
Unfortunately, if you want to get in on the Ashtead growth story, youre going to have to pay a hefty price. At present, based on current City analyst forecasts, Ashtead trades at a forward P/E of 19.9. However, as the company is now expecting to report results ahead of expectations, this figure is out of date. The companys forward valuation should fall slightly over the next few weeks as City analysts revise their figures.
Still, for growth investors, who are not overly concerned about the companys high valuation, or token dividend yield of 1.3%, Ashtead could be a good pick. With earnings set to expand by more than 30% this year and forecasts predicting further earnings growth of 20% next year, the companys shares offer growth at a reasonable price. Based on current figures Ashteads PEG ratio is 0.7.
That being said, Ashtead operates within a highly cyclical industry and the company requires a strong construction market to maintain a high level of earnings growth. Indeed, Ashteads shares crashed to 45p during the financial crisis, as demand for industrial equipment evaporated.
With this in mind, Ashteads high valuation concerns me, if the global economic recovery falters, and the demand for Ashteads equipment declines, the companys share price could rapidly fall back to earth.
Investing for the long-term
Ashtead is the perfect cyclical share to profit from an economic recovery but if things take a turn for the worst, investors could be left out in the cold.
Trying to protect your portfolio from economic peaks and troughs can be hard work, that’s why the Motley Fool’s top analysts have put together haveput together this free, no obligation report, which reveals how you can improve your investment performance with just20 minutes work a month.
The report is designed to help you become one of the UK’sgrowing number of ‘surprise’ millionaires. It could help you create a portfolio that could bring you closer to financial freedom for life.
The report is only available for a limited time. Soclick hereto get your free copy today.
Hurry,this is somethingyou don’t want to miss.