H&E Equipment Services Inc., a Baton Rouge-based heavy equipment sales and rental firm, reported third-quarter earnings of $4.8 million, or 14 cents per share, compared to a loss of $3.8 million, or 11 cents per share, a year ago.

The company increased revenue by 19.8 percent to $184.3 million. The company also boosted its rental business and rental rates.

Stock analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had forecast earnings of 7 cents per share.

“The third quarter was another strong quarter for our business as we grew rental revenue in excess of 25 percent compared to a year ago for the fourth consecutive quarter,” John Engquist, president and chief executive officer of H&E Equipment, said in a news release.

The company’s outlook for the fourth quarter is positive, Engquist said. H&E expects strong demand for rental equipment based on current trends and discussions with customers, he said.

“Depending on the timing of these potential purchases and normal seasonality, the third quarter could be our peak period of 2011. This would not be unusual as the third quarter is historically our strongest period of the year,” Engquist said.