United Rentals stems losses but conditions unchanged

By Murray Pollok05 February 2010

United Rentals has managed to dramatically reduce its losses, reporting a US$26 million net loss for the final quarter of 2009 compared to a $853 million loss in the same quarter of 2008. Net losses for the full year were down to $62 million compared to $704 million for 2008.

Total revenues in the final quarter fell by 29.6% to $557 million, with total revenues for the year down 27.8% to $2.36 billion.

Michael Kneeland, chief executive officer of United Rentals, said the company continued to see an environment similar to that of the first half of 2009; "Despite the challenges of a lingering downturn, we believe that the transformation of our customer service and sales operations, and our strong capital structure, put us in a unique position to gain share that will be accretive to earnings over time."

The company reduced its selling and general administration (SGA) costs by $20 million in the final quarter of the year and by $101 million for the full year 2009 compared with 2008.

Time utilisation was 61.8% for the fourth quarter and 60.7% for the full year 2009, representing decreases of 2.4% percentage points and 2.9% points, respectively, from 2008. Rental rates declined 9.6% for the quarter and 11.8% for the year.

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