Sunbelt Rentals has posted about $1.415 billion in fiscal fourth quarter 2020 revenue, up slightly from $1.387 billion in the fiscal fourth quarter of 2019.
The total figure includes Sunbelt Rentals U.S., Sunbelt Canada, and the newly branded Sunbelt U.K., formerly known as A-Plant. Operating profit, however, declined from $313.70 million to $194.49 million, a 38% tumble.
For the full fiscal year ended April 30, Sunbelt Rentals U.S. posted $5.490 billion in revenue compared to $4.989 billion a year ago, a 10% increase. Sunbelt Canada reported $310.53 million in fiscal 2020 compared to $253.9 million a year ago, a 22.3% boost, with considerable contributions from acquisitions. Sunbelt UK had revenue of $588.63 million compared to $596.03 million a year ago, a 1.2% decrease.
Group revenue totaled $6.34 billion compared to $5.64 billion a year ago, a 12.3% increase. The fourth quarter was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; therefore, the fourth quarter increase was only 2%.
Although COVID-19 has influenced the group’s short-term planning and actions, the company’s strategy remains unchanged with long-term growth being driven by organic investment (same store and greenfield), supplemented by bolt-on acquisitions. In the U.S., the company posted 10% rental-only revenue growth, while Canada had 30%. In the U.K., rental-only revenue dropped 2%, reflecting the more competitive landscape within a more uncertain U.K. market and a period of realignment for the U.K. business. Canada’s recent acquisitions, including its purchase of William F. White in December 2019, played a major role in its rental-revenue jump.
The company said that despite the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, with U.S. fleet on rent falling 15% in a five-week period, overall results are still strong. “There has, of course, been an impact on our fourth quarter results, but the underlying strength of the business and our performance in the first three quarters of 2019/20 mean we have continued to perform well overall,” the company said in a statement. “Our business is robust and we remain open for our customers in all our geographies.”
Rental revenue for Sunbelt U.S. was 3% higher in March compared to the previous year, but 12% lower in April. The general tool business dropped 15% in April, year over year, while the specialty businesses, excluding oil and gas, jumped 9%. The decline in general tool was driven by decline in volume, not a drop in rental rates. Since April 10, U.S. fleet on rent has stabilized and then increased as markets adjusted to new working practices and restrictions gradually eased. The trend has been similar in the U.K. and Canada. May rental revenue declined by 14% year over year.
“I am extraordinarily proud of, and grateful for, our team members and their response during a time when our communities were in need,” said Sunbelt CEO Brendan Horgan. “All levels of the organization quickly adapted our operations to continue servicing our customers while keeping our leading value of safety at the forefront of all we do. While no one could have foreseen the global impact of COVID-19, our business model and capital structure are designed to withstand the cyclical nature of some of our end markets. We took prompt actions to optimize cash flow, reducing capital expenditure and operating costs, and strengthen further our liquidity position. In these unprecedented times, the results of our long-term strategy to mature our business through diversity and scale came through in our performance."