Mar 9, 2014 22:34 Lamar earnings increase Lamar earnings increase A solar panel sits atop a Lamar Advertising billboard in Florida, the first state where the company has converted to solar power. (Photo provided by Lamar Advertising) Advocate staff report March 09, 2014 Comments Outdoor advertising giant Lamar Advertising Co. reported fourth-quarter earnings rose to $10.2 million, or 11 cents per share, compared with $7.9 million, or 8 cents per share, a year ago. Lamar’s revenue for the quarter increased to $320.4 million, compared with $306.6 million a year ago. For the year, Lamar’s earnings jumped to $40.1 million, or 42 cents per share, compared with $7.9 million, or 8 cents per share a year earlier. The company’s revenue grew to $1.25 billion, up 5.6 percent from 2012. However, the profit for the quarter and the year fell short of Wall Street analysts’ expectations. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had forecast fourth-quarter earnings of 16 cents per share and 51 cents per share for the year. Lamar beat analysts’ fourth-quarter revenue forecasts of $316.5 million while meeting the 2013 revenue forecast of $1.25 billion. Meanwhile, the Baton Rouge company also said it expects first-quarter revenue for 2014 of $290 million to $293 million, an increase of 1 percent to 2 percent. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect revenue at $292.7 million. Lamar closed Thursday at $51.62 per share, up $1.55 per share, or 3.1 percent. A little more than 4.1 million shares changed hands, close to four times the average daily volume. Lamar also expects that it will be able to convert to a Real Estate Investment Trust effective Jan. 1. Such trusts typically invest in property or mortgages. The trusts don’t have to pay corporate income taxes on profits if 90 percent or more of profits go to shareholders. Lamar asked the Internal Revenue Service in November 2012 for a ruling on whether the company would qualify for conversion to a trust. The IRS is actively working on Lamar’s request, the company said.