Baton Rouge-based H&E Equipment Services Inc.'s fourth-quarter earnings climbed to $16.7 million, or 47 cents per share, compared to $14.6 million, or 41 cents per share, a year ago.
The company rents and sells construction equipment, and results for both those segments improved. The company's revenue grew by 14.7 percent to $297.8 million.
For the year, H&E reported a profit of $55.1 million, or $1.56 per share, compared to $44.1 million, or $1.26 per share. Annual revenue grew 10.4 percent to $1.1 billion.
H&E outperformed Wall Street's expectations for the quarter and the year. Stock analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had predicted per-share earnings of 45 cents for the quarter and $1.54 for the year.
H&E Chief Executive Officer John Engquist described the fourth quarter as "a strong conclusion to a banner year."
The company capitalized on the accelerating recovery in commercial construction, he said.
“We believe healthy growth opportunities will continue into 2015, driven by momentum in the non-residential construction markets and increasing industrial expansion in Louisiana and Texas," Engquist said.
While there is concern that lower oil prices may slow the anticipated expansions, may projects are expected to continue because of low natural gas prices, he said. Oil-and-gas activities accounted for 13 percent of H&E's 2014 revenue, but the vast majority of that equipment was used in oil production, which in the past was less sensitive to price changes.
Any hit H&E takes from a slowdown in the oil patch may be offset by increased activity in other industries as a result of lower fuel prices, Engquist said.