Ashtead starts share buyback, lifts full-year forecast

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(Reuters) - British industrial equipment hire group Ashtead Group Plc launched a share buyback programme and hiked its annual results forecast, helped by hurricane clear-up activity in the United States.

Ashtead said on Tuesday it is starting a share buyback programme of at least 500 million pounds and up to 1 billion over the next 18 months.

The company, which hires out diggers and tools on short-term contracts, said underlying pretax profit rose to 536.9 million pounds from 425.9 million pounds for the six months ended Oct. 31.

Underlying rental revenue rose 22.8 percent to 1.77 billion pounds.

"Whilst we would anticipate that activity levels would normalise during the second half, post-hurricane clean-up, we expect full-year results to be ahead of our prior expectations," Ashtead said.

(Reporting by Radhika Rukmangadhan in Bengaluru, editing by Louise Heavens)

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