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Essex Rental Corp widens fourth quarter losses, but revenues rise

|Includes:Essex Property Trust, Inc. (ESS)

Essex Rental Corp. (NASDAQ:ESSX) reported Monday that its fourth quarter losses widened, but revenues jumped 70% on a recent acquisition.

For the three months ending December 31, 2010, the Illinois-based company, which provides mobile cranes and other heavy lifting equipment, reported a net loss of $3.15 million, or $0.17 per diluted share, compared to a loss of $0.62 million, or $0.04 per diluted share, in the year-ago period.

The company acquired its Coast Crane subsidiary in November last year and during the five week post-acquisition period, Coast Crane contributed $1.7 million to Essex's core equipment rental revenue, but also drove up expenses.

Revenues climbed to $15.43 million in the fourth quarter from $9.09 million a year earlier, with equipment rental sales jumping 28% year-over-year to $8.14 million.  Utilization rates increased as well to 44.7% during the period, up from 34.8% in the fourth quarter of 2009.

The company said the increase was partially offset by a decline in the average monthly crane rental rate, impacted by weakened demand and a slow economic recovery.

Transportation revenue rose 60% during the fourth quarter, while equipment repairs and maintenance revenue went up 46%.

As a result of the Coast Crane acquisition, the company's selling, general and administrative expenses increased to $5.1 million in the quarter from $1.8 million in the prior year period. This included $1.2 million in transaction related expenses, and $1.4 million in costs generated by Coast Crane during the five week post-acquisition period, Essex said.

The company also said it has decided to invest more than $20 million in new equipment for Coast Crane's rental fleet.

Essex, through its subsidiaries Essex Crane Rental Corp. and Coast Crane Company, has a fleet of more than 1,000 cranes and other construction equipment. The company provides lifting services for a wide range of construction projects, from power generation to highways and residential construction.

Stocks: ESS