Baton Rouge-based H&E Equipment Services reported a third-quarter profit of $8.5 million, or 24 cents per share, compared to $11.7 million, or 33 cents per share, a year ago.

The lower third-quarter 2017 results included a $25.4 million charge for retiring debt and $8.7 million in income from a fee Neff Corp. paid for breaking a merger agreement. H&E issued new eight-year, senior unsecured notes with an interest rate of 5.625 percent and paid off 7 percent senior unsecured notes. Neff had agreed to H&E's $510 million offer but backed out when United Rentals offered $600 million. 

After adjusting for those items, H&E's third-quarter profit was $27.1 million, or 76 cents per share. Stock analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research had expected earnings of 39 cents.

Total revenue increased 5.9 percent to $259.2 million. Equipment rental revenue grew by 6 percent to $125.6 million. John Engquist, H&E Equipment Services’ chief executive officer, said strong, broad-based demand in nonresidential construction markets helped drive rental revenue. 

The company continues to evaluate acquisitions that will complement H&E's business, broaden its footprint and increase its concentration in important business segments, he said.

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