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Stock of the week: Ashtead

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Ian Forrest, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, picks equipment rental group Ashtead as his stock of the week for medium-risk investors seeking growth.

Ashtead is an international equipment group that provides a range of items for rental used by a number of sectors, notably construction. Its main operations are in the US, along with the UK and this global exposure is one of the reasons why it is The Share Centre’s pick of the week.

It has seen trading grow steadily over the last four years and it’s forecast to continue thanks to growth in infrastructure spending and good underlying economic growth in the US. The weakness in sterling following the momentous Brexit vote is also likely to give it a further boost.

Ashtead’s US division, Sunbelt, has been the main source of growth. The company has been investing heavily in its hire equipment in the US, both upgrading existing assets and buying new ones, in order to help meet demand.

The group posted its full year results in June, and Forrest said these were reassuring given poor figures from other companies in the sector. Overall dividends were lifted 48% for the year and the group said trading in the new financial year had started well. It will also proceed with a share buyback programme of up to £200m in the year ahead.

Forrest said: “Due to the strong earnings momentum it has developed, the potential for further improvement in cash flow, and the continued growth potential if the recovery in the US construction sector continues, we recommend Ashtead as a ‘buy’ for medium-risk investors seeking growth.”

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