H&E Equipment posts profit

Baton Rouge-based H&E Equipment Services Inc., which rents and sells construction machinery, reported a first-quarter profit Thursday of $4.8 million, or 14 cents per share, compared to $4.0 million, or 11 cents per share, a year earlier.

All of H&E’s business segments delivered solid growth during the quarter and did so despite severe winter weather conditions in a number of markets, H&E Chief Executive Officer John Engquist said. Engquist spoke during a Thursday conference call with stock analysts and investors.

“We believe our results, and those of the industry, reflect the early stages of a multiyear expansion cycle,” Engguist said.

The company also is targeting more work in the industrial sector and expects to increase its business in that segment.

Low natural gas prices have triggered an enormous round of petrochemical plant building and expansions. Close to $210 billion in projects are underway or expected this year in Gulf Coast states, according to Industrial Info Services, a Texas firm that tracks industrial projects.

Meanwhile, H&E’s revenue rose 22.3 percent to $212.4 million, thanks in large part to increases in the rental business and new equipment sales, according to the company. Rental revenue jumped 26.4 percent to $75.4 million while new equipment sales rose 30.1 percent to $53.3 million compared to the first quarter of 2012.

H&E outperformed stock analysts’ expectations on earnings and revenue. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had forecast earnings of 13 cents per share on revenue of $196.3 million.

H&E’s first-quarter results were affected by higher interest expenses, $12.3 million compared to $6.9 million a year earlier.

H&E’s stock rose 54 cents, nearly 3 percent, to close Thursday at $19.35.