This quarter, RBC Capital Markets, LLC received 85 responses from North American and international operators. Across both domestic and international markets, crane fleet utilization was up. Nearly half of the recipients indicated June quarter fleet utilization improved from the prior year period. For the first time in two years, more operators also reported an increase in rental/lease rates than reported a decrease, as pricing continues a slow progression higher. Despite improvements across the board, fleet expansion intentions are more tempered with only 32 percent of respondents indicating plans to expand their crane fleets in 2011. The steadily rising sentiment that the business environment was improving took a pause, slipping to 35 percent from 54 percent in the March quarter survey.
Utilization of Crane Fleet
When asked about utilization of the crane fleet in June 2011 quarter, 35 percent of responders indicated crane fleet utilization above the 80 percent level, well above the 23 percent that operated above level in March 2011 quarter survey. This is twice the number that operated above the 80 percent in the June 2010 survey. This change may also reflect some seasonality. In addition, 39 percent of operators had fleets below 70 percent utilization, an improvement from 48 percent that operated below that level in the March quarter survey.
Crane Fleet Utilization, Year-on-Year Change
48 percent of all survey participants indicated that their June quarter fleet utilization improved from the prior year period, roughly on par with the 50 percent that saw an increase in the March quarter survey. Similarly, the number of responders that saw fleet utilization decline year-on-year in the June 2011 quarter dipped to 20 percent from the 23 percent that saw a drop in the March quarter survey.
For the first time in over two years, more operators reported a year-on-year increase in rates than reported a decrease, as pricing continues a slow progression higher. For the quarter, 24 percent of responders indicated rates improved year-on-year in the June quarter, up from 20 percent that reported a rise in the March 2011 quarter survey and versus the 20 percent that saw rates decline. 56 percent showed rates unchanged year-on-year.