In a trading update for the nine months to 30 September, the FTSE 250 maker of industrial heaters and air conditioning said full-year earnings were expected to be “in line with expectations” with a return on capital employed (ROCE) in the mid-teens for 2020.
This was despite underlying revenues for the firm falling 2% in the nine months, driven by declines in rental solutions, Aggreko’s largest segment, and its power solutions utility business, where underlying incomes dropped 1% and 7% respectively.
Lower rental revenue was blamed on a “weaker performance” in the company’s Northern European market, as well as tough comparatives in Australia Pacific following an emergency utility contract boosting last year’s figures.
North America, by contrast, had seen “good growth” despite what the firm said was softening since the half-year.
The decline of power solutions utility, meanwhile, was attributed to the timing of off-hires in 2018 and new work in the period, which decreased the average megawatts on hire by 9%.
The only part of the group to not see a fall was the industrial power solutions arm, however, it only managed to report flat growth for the period.
Aggreko will be hoping to boost its fortunes next year after having secured a US$200mln contract for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in December last year.
Analysts at Peel Hunt, which rate Aggreko at ‘reduce’ with a 700p price target, said while the ROCE forecasts may “reassure” investors, the shares still looked “overvalued given the potential risks to return post 2020”.
“We are specifically concerned [about] both structural and cyclical pressures and despite the management strength [we] see value elsewhere”, the broker added.
The mood was more upbeat at RBC, which rates the company at ‘outperform’ and a 1,000p price target.
“We believe Aggreko is at last at an inflection point”, the Canadian bank said in a note, adding that the company’s focus on rental solutions provided “robust” growth drivers and that they believed the firm’s ROCE target was achievable.
The shares were up 2.7% at 818.6p in lunchtime trading.
–Adds broker comment and updates share price–