Essex Crane Rental Corp. last week posted $15 million in rental-related revenue for the first quarter of 2009, a 12.8-percent decline compared to $17.2 million for the first quarter of 2008. The revenue included rentals, repairs and maintenance, and transportation services, but excluded used equipment sales.
Rental revenue for the quarter was $12.2 million, a 12.2-percent drop compared with $13.9 million for the first quarter of 2008.
Essex’ average monthly crane rental rate increased 18.9 percent to $22,794 for the first quarter, compared with $19,163 for the same period in 2008, reflecting rental rate increases as well as Essex’s optimization of its fleet mix by adding heavier-lift cranes. Essex is financing the acquisition of the heavier cranes partly by selling off its older lighter-lift cranes.
Time utilization for the quarter was 57.2 percent compared to 72.6 percent for the same period of 2008, although the decline was partially offset by the higher rental rates.
EBITDA for Essex’s first quarter was $7.8 million compared to $10.6 million for the year-ago quarter, a 26.4-percent drop.
“The sluggish booking activity we experienced towards the end of the fourth quarter of 2008 continued through the first quarter of 2009, stemming from the difficult commercial credit environment and general economic uncertainty that affected our customers across the board,” said Ron Schad, president and CEO of Essex. “However in the latter part of the first quarter of 2009, we started to experience a pickup in quoting activity to levels that were experienced in the same period of 2008. We anticipate an increase in bookings in the second half of 2009 as recent inquiry and quoting activity has led us to believe that orders are close to being released for infrastructure projects. This is specifically related to heavy highway work and other projects included in the Federal Stimulus Bill that targets many of our end markets.”
Schad added that in the interim, the company has slowed its capital expenditure program, implemented cost-cutting initiatives including reducing staff, decreasing the use of third-party vendors performing maintenance on the company’s crane fleet and reducing overtime. Schad added that Essex still has $46.3 million of availability on its $190 million credit facility.
Based in Buffalo Grove, Ill., Essex Crane Rental Corp. is No. 30 on the new RER 100.