H&E Equipment Services Inc., a Baton Rouge-based heavy equipment supplier, reported a first-quarter profit of $5.6 million, or 16 cents per share, down from $6.1 million, or 17 cents per share, a year ago.
H&E still beat Wall Street’s expectations. Stock analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research had forecast earnings of 12 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were even more pessimistic, with a forecast of 9 cents per share.
Continued strong performance in the rental business and an unexpected jump in new equipment sales helped offset much of the slowdown caused by heavy rains and flooding in Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas, H&E Chief Executive Officer John Engquist said in a news release.
Rental revenue grew 1.4 percent to $102.8 million. New equipment sales surged 28.4 percent to $57.2 million. Engquist said sales of earthmoving equipment drove new equipment sales in the first quarter, but that level of activity is unlikely to continue the rest of the year.
Engquist said the outlook for the rest of 2016 remains positive, thanks to healthy non-residential construction markets.
“Our Gulf Coast market has continued to be the sweet spot for our business due to the high levels of industrial activity, new non-residential construction starts and demand from a wide array of the large capital projects breaking ground,” he said.