Baton Rouge-based H&E Equipment Services Inc. reported second-quarter earnings improved slightly to $10.8 million, or 31 cents per share, compared to $10.5 million, or 30 cents per share, a year ago.

The heavy equipment company increased revenue by 17.4 percent to $245.3 million. Rentals grew 22.3 percent to $63.3 million. Used equipment sales jumped 47.3 percent to $2.2 million. New equipment sales were also up 12.9 percent to $65.1 million.

However, the amount of interest H&E paid was also up sharply. The company had interest expenses of $13.1 million during the second quarter, compared to $7 million a year ago. The company had total debt of $732.9 million as of June 30, compared to $690.2 million a year ago.

Stock analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had forecast earnings of 31 cents per share and revenue of $244 million.

H&E Chief Executive Officer John Engquist said the company’s penetration of the industrial construction market, particularly in the Gulf Coast’s oil patch and petrochemical business, continued to be a major benefit.

“Rising oil prices and demand for natural gas are spurring capital investment. In Louisiana, where we are headquartered, reports indicate we are in the beginning stages of one of the largest industrial expansions of our state’s history,” he said. “We are also excited about the industrial expansion in markets we serve in Texas.”