- Equipment rental company Ashtead reported a rise in first-half profit, driven by growth in the US and Canadian markets.

For the six months ended 31 October, statutory pre-tax profit rose 6% to £660m and revenue rose 14% to £2.7bn.

The company said its performance reflected 'good' profit growth in the US, a more moderate improvement in Canada and a drag from weakness in the UK.

Rental revenues rose 13% to £2.1bn, with Sunbelt US, and Sunbelt Canada delivering growth 15% and 21%, respectively, offsetting weakness in A-Plant, which saw rental revenue fall 2%.

The interim dividend was increased 10% to 7.15p per share from 6.5p per share.

'Our business continues to perform well in supportive North American end markets, while we have taken decisive strategic action to refocus our UK business in the challenging market conditions,' Ashtead said.

'Thus, except for the UK and a currency headwind, we expect results to be in line with our expectations and the Board continues to look to the medium term with confidence.'

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