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Ashtead warns of profit fall in the next year

Ashtead today warned that profits for 2009-10 financial year are likely to fall below its expectations due to a slump in private sector construction markets.

The equipment hire group, which rents out a range of industrial equipment from diggers to small tools, delivered the news in a trading update today.

The firm said fourth-quarter rental revenues at constant exchange rates dropped 24 per cent compared with the same time last year.

Ashtead said underlying profit for the year ended 30 April 2009 were likely to be towards the lower end of analysts’ forecast range of £85.5 million to £95.4 million.

The profit compares with £112.3 million earned the year before.

But Ashtead did not give a forecast for 2009-10 underlying profit.

Analysts Panmure Gordon forecast Ashtead’s said “In the light of comments regarding 2010 now being below previous management expectations our current £53.5 million (underlying profit forecast) remains under review.”