VANCOUVER, BC (May 3, 2011) Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Inc. (NYSE and TSX: RBA) reported auction revenues for the three months ended March 31, 2011 were $88.5 million, a 6% increase compared to $83.5 million for the same period in 2010. The company conducted 37 industrial auctions in 11 countries throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, Central America and Australia during the first quarter of 2011.
The company announced a quarterly cash dividend of $0.105 per common share payable on June 10, 2011 to shareholders of record on May 20, 2011.
Gross auction proceeds for the first quarter were $851 million, 10% higher than in the same period in 2010. Excluding gross auction proceeds of $47 million from the sale of the megayacht Apoise in the first quarter of 2010, the increase would have been 17%. Gross auction proceeds is a non-GAAP financial measure and is described below. The company's auction revenue rate (auction revenues as a percentage of gross auction proceeds) was 10.39% during the first three months of 2011, compared to 10.76% in the first three months of 2010.
Ritchie Bros. sold over $223 million of equipment, trucks and other assets to online bidders during the first quarter of 2011, representing a 19% increase compared to the same period in 2010 (2010 –$187 million). Internet bidders comprised approximately 46% of the total bidder registrations at Ritchie Bros. industrial auctions in the first quarter of 2011. Since launching its real-time online bidding service in 2002, the company has now sold almost $4.4 billion worth of trucks, equipment, and other assets to online bidders confirming Ritchie Bros.' position as the world's largest seller of used equipment and trucks to online buyers.
Ritchie Bros. has just celebrated the first anniversary of its new multi-language rbauction.com website. The company experienced a 29% increase in visits to its website from non-English speakers and they made up 20% of the visits during the three months ended March 31, 2011.
There was a 29% increase in the number of unique visitors to rbauction.com for the three months ended March 31, 2011 compared to the same period in 2010. Roughly 1.0 million unique visitors made 10.7 million equipment searches during the quarter ended March 31, 2011 compared to 0.8 million unique visitors and 7.9 million searches, respectively, in the same period in 2010.
"We are pleased to have achieved the largest first quarter gross auction proceeds and auction revenues in our history. Our strong performance reflected increasing optimism among equipment owners and early signs of momentum returning to the equipment industry," said Peter Blake, Ritchie Bros. CEO. "During the first quarter of 2011, we continued to see tight supply of late model used equipment and strong competition in the marketplace, and we were successful achieving strong prices across most categories of equipment. Our auction revenue rate returned to a more sustainable level during the quarter because the performance of our at-risk business was lower than the above trend performance in 2010. The proportion of our business that was at risk during the quarter increased in response to customer demand as we helped them achieve their sale objectives.
"We remain optimistic about our prospects for the balance of 2011 as the used equipment market around the world continues to return to a more balanced state," Blake continued. "Construction activity in a number of our markets around the world remains uncertain, and sustained improvement will be important for maintaining strength in the used equipment market over the longer term. However, our strategic initiatives are progressing well and we are looking forward to the implementation of a number of exciting new services on July 1, including our detailed equipment information and customer finance programs."