Vancouver, British Columbia-based Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers last week announced net earnings of $17.6 million, or $0.50 per diluted weighted average share, for the quarter ended March 31, a 33-percent increase over the comparable period in 2006. All dollar amounts are presented in U.S. dollars.
Gross auction sales for the quarter ended March 31, were $700 million, a record first-quarter performance for the company and a 23-percent increase over the prior year’s first-quarter gross auction sales. Auction revenues were $69.4 million for the first quarter of 2007, an increase of 24 percent compared to the equivalent quarter in the prior year. The company’s auction revenue rate was 9.90 percent for the first quarter of 2007, compared to 9.79 percent for the first quarter of the previous year.
Ritchie Bros. conducted 32 unreserved industrial auctions during the quarter ended March 31, at locations throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Mexico. Four of those auctions set regional gross auction sales records, including the largest auction in the company’s history in February at its permanent auction site in Orlando, Fla., which achieved gross auction sales of more than $172 million.
The company sold in excess of 55,000 lots from more than 6,500 industrial consignments and had more than 55,000 bidder registrations at its industrial auctions during the quarter ended March 31. Internet bidding remained an important enhancement to the company’s live auctions, as it sold nearly $120 million worth of trucks and equipment in the first quarter of 2007 to online buyers using the company’s rbauctionBid-Live system.
Subsequent to March 31, the company opened new permanent auction sites in Denver, to replace an existing permanent auction site in Denver, and in Columbus, Ohio. Ritchie Bros. now has 35 auction facilities around the world. It also completed the acquisition of approximately 160 acres of land near Kansas City, Mo., on which it intends to construct a new permanent auction site to replace the company’s existing regional auction unit on leased land in that city.
“We experienced strong growth in all of our markets in the first quarter of this year, indicating to us that the momentum of our unreserved auction model continues to be strong,” said Peter Blake, Ritchie Bros. CEO.
The company’s board of directors also last week declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.21 per common share payable on June 15, to shareholders of record on May 25.
As part of its ongoing succession plans, the company also announced that it intends to re-establish the role of chief operating officer in early 2008 and to appoint Robert Armstrong, the company’s chief financial officer and corporate secretary, to this position. The company expects to commence shortly a search for a new chief financial officer to succeed Armstrong.
Ritchie Bros. is the world’s largest auctioneer of industrial equipment, operating through over 110 locations in more than 25 countries around the world. The company sells, through unreserved public auctions, a broad range of used and unused industrial assets, including trucks, equipment and other assets used in the construction, transportation, mining, forestry, petroleum, materials handling, marine and agricultural industries.