Financial Times  Jul 20  Comment 
Peer’s raised guidance pushes equipment rental company to top of a rising FTSE 100
Benzinga  Jul 17  Comment 
Analysts at RBC Capital Markets turned bullish on United Rentals, Inc. (NYSE: URI) Monday due to an improvement in the rental market and the company's large cash generation. Seth Weber upgraded United Rentals' stock from Sector Perform to...
SeekingAlpha  Jun 30  Comment 
Benzinga  May 12  Comment 
The Vetr crowd on Friday upgraded its rating for United Rentals Inc. (NYSE: URI) from 3.5 stars (Buy), issued a week ago, to 4.5 stars (Strong Buy). Crowd sentiment in United Rentals at the time of the upgrade was unanimously positive, with 100...
Benzinga  Apr 27  Comment 
Jim Cramer said on CNBC's Mad Money he likes United Rentals, Inc. (NYSE: URI). He added that he felt good about its earnings report. Cramer can't recommend US Concrete Inc (NASDAQ: USCR) as a buy, because the company has accounting...


United Rentals (NYSE:URI) rents construction equipment like aerial work platforms and forklifts. Its primary revenue sources are private commercial and residential construction companies, but it also rents to public clients like municipalities and utilities. URI rents over 2,900 different classes of equipment[1] and holds about 10% of the equipment rental industry by revenue, the biggest share of any company in this segment.[2] URI's large equipment fleet and geographic reach across the United States, Canada, and Mexico allow it to create an extensive equipment sharing network, maximizing usage and reducing the amount of equipment needed at each rental location.[3]

United Rentals is exposed to the cyclical nature of the residential and commercial construction industries, but not in the same way as builders or equipment manufacturers. Downturns in the economy which hurt these industries mean slower demand for construction equipment. However, recessions provide increased incentives to rent rather than purchase equipment, which spurs demand for United Rentals' products and services.

Business Overview

United Rentals's rental units include general construction and industrial equipment like backhoes, forklifts and earth moving equipment; aerial work platforms, such as scissor lifts and boom lifts; general tools and light equipment such as pressure washers, heaters and hand tools; and trench safety equipment[4]. The company operates 697 retail locations throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada, offering over 260,000 units of construction equipment[5]. Although United Rentals is primarily a rental company, the company also sells new and used equipment, contractor supplies and provides equipment service and maintenance.

Business & Financial Metrics[6]

In 2009, URI saw a net loss of $62 million on $1.75 billion in total revenue. This represented a reduction in annual losses of 93.4% from a $943 million loss on $2.15 billion in 2008.

Business Segments[7]

URI operates through two reportable business segments:

  • General Rentals (84.8% of operating income): This segment rents out construction, aerial, industrial, and home maintenance equipment in addition to providing associated services.
  • Trench Safety, Power and Pumps (15.6% of operating income): This segment rents out specialty construction products and provides associated services. This segment's operating margin is consistently higher than the General Rentals segment.


Key Trends and Forces

Cyclical Nature of Construction Industry Causes Rental Demand to Fluctuate

United Rentals primarily rents its equipment to the commercial construction industry, with 90% of its revenue earned in this industry[9]. Any decreases in the demand for construction resulting from macroeconomic factors like an economic recession, increased cost of construction materials, adverse weather conditions or an increase in interest rates will hurt the demand for construction equipment rentals. For example, the seasonality of the Commercial Real Estate construction industry, with lower construction in the winter months, causes demand for equipment rentals to fall as well during the winter. Conversely, factors such as an economic downturn actually increase incentive for companies to rent rather than purchase construction equipment.

Rising Fuel Costs Hurts Rental Demand and Gross Margin

United Rentals maintains low inventory costs by grouping branches in groups of 6 to 12 according to geographic location[10]. These groups share construction equipment, minimizing equipment idle time. United Rentals therefore relies on a highly mobilized fleet, which would be hampered by increased Oil Prices. Higher costs of fuel increase operating costs of equipment rentals, which then reduce United Rentals's gross margin. Also, rising fuel prices indirectly lowers equipment rental demand by raising the costs of steel and affecting major construction suppliers like US Steel (X).

Growth of Construction Equipment Rental Industry Leads to More Sales

The construction equipment rental industry in the United States has increased at a 10% compound annual growth rate since 1990[11]. Particularly in an economic downturn, construction equipment rental becomes a better option for builders for several reasons:

  • Companies do not have to make large capital investments needed to purchase equipment
  • Rental companies offer a highly diverse selection of equipment and therefore provide the ability to best suit the needs of a specific job
  • Renting equipment minimizes storage and transportation costs
  • Renting equipment provides constant access to new technology without having to reinvest in new equipment[12].

United Rentals, the largest equipment rental company by revenue, is poised to prosper from significant growth in the equipment rental industry as its broad geographic footprint and large equipment fleet lead to the acquisition of new customers much easier than its primarily localized competition which lack similar nationwide reach and brand recognition.

Acquisitions and Geographic Expansion

United Rentals has made five major acquisitions since 2005. High Reach Equipment Services, LLC, an aerial equipment supplier was acquired in 2007, the company's latest acquisition in an effort to expand their services geographically by acquiring smaller equipment rental companies nationwide[13]. By expanding geographically, United Rentals seeks to achieve higher brand recognition and higher efficiencies in resource sharing between branches.


The equipment rental industry is dominated mainly by small, independent businesses with only one or two rental locations. Major publicly traded competitors include Hertz Global Holdings (HTZ) and RSC Holdings, Inc.

  • Hertz most commonly associated with car rentals, rents construction equipment across North America and Europe.
  • RSC Holdings, Inc. competes with United Rentals across North America.
  • Equipment vendors and dealers like Caterpillar (CAT) sell and rent equipment directly to consumers also compete with United Rentals.


  1. United Rentals 2007 10-K, Item 1, pg. 1
  2. Calculated by dividing URI 2007 revenue by total 2007 industry revenue, United Rentals 2007 10-K, Item 1, pg. 1
  3. United Rentals 2007 10-K, Item 1, pg. 3
  4. United Rentals 2007 10-K, Item 1, pg. 1
  5. 2007 10-K, Item 1, pg. 1
  6. URI 2009 10-K pg. 49  
  7. URI 2009 10-K pg. 6  
  8. URI 2009 10-K pg. 37  
  9. United Rentals 2007 10-K, pg. 6
  10. United Rentals 2007 10-K, Item 1, pg. 3 and pg. 16
  11. United Rentals 2007 10-K, Item 1, pg. 3
  12. United Rentals 2007 10-K, Item 1, pg.3
  13. United Rentals 2007 10-K, pg. 53
Wikinvest © 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. Use of this site is subject to express Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, and Disclaimer. By continuing past this page, you agree to abide by these terms. Any information provided by Wikinvest, including but not limited to company data, competitors, business analysis, market share, sales revenues and other operating metrics, earnings call analysis, conference call transcripts, industry information, or price targets should not be construed as research, trading tips or recommendations, or investment advice and is provided with no warrants as to its accuracy. Stock market data, including US and International equity symbols, stock quotes, share prices, earnings ratios, and other fundamental data is provided by data partners. Stock market quotes delayed at least 15 minutes for NASDAQ, 20 mins for NYSE and AMEX. Market data by Xignite. See data providers for more details. Company names, products, services and branding cited herein may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. The use of trademarks or service marks of another is not a representation that the other is affiliated with, sponsors, is sponsored by, endorses, or is endorsed by Wikinvest.
Powered by MediaWiki