- Tool and equipment rental group Speedy Hire posted a 92% drop in first-half profit, but said it expected to post annual results at the top end of expectations as demand recovers.

Pre-tax profit for the six months through September tumbled to £1.4 million, down from £16.4 million year-on-year, as sales slipped 20% to £163.8 million.

Speedy Hire did not declare an interim dividend, though it said it expected to pay a dividend for the full year, assuming current trading trends continued.

The company said it had experienced an ongoing recovery in trading, with UK and Ireland core hire revenue around 3.5% below prior year in October.

UK and Ireland asset utilisation had improved to 60.2% by 31 October, up from 57.9% year-on-year.

Speedy Hire said the UK's second national lockdown had not impacted it materially to date, with construction and infrastructure markets continuing to operate.

'I am pleased with the resilient performance of our business during this unprecedented period,' chief executive Russell Down said.

'Cash flow performance has been excellent, due to actions taken quickly to control costs and preserve cash, and our balance sheet remains strong.

'I am pleased to report ongoing positive trading momentum in recent months.'

'Moving into the second half, while conditions remain uncertain due to Covid-19, utilisation has returned to 2019 levels and the business is well positioned and invested to take advantage as trading recovers to more normal levels.'

'As a consequence full year results are expected to be towards the top end of analysts' expectations.'

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