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United Rentals' 3Q earnings nearly double

The Associated Press

NEWS: United Rentals Inc.'s third-quarter earnings nearly doubled as a quickening pace of home and office construction enabled the company to lease more of its tools and other equipment at higher prices.

DETAILS: The Stamford, Conn. company typically benefits when builders and homeowners are tackling more projects, and that is what happened during the three-month period ending in September. United Rentals' rates rose by about 3 percent from the same time last year, and more of the company's equipment at its 822 locations in the U.S. and Canada was being used during the quarter.

"This is the environment we anticipated when we set our full year financial targets, and we expect that nonresidential construction will continue to trend upward in 2014," United Rentals CEO Michael Kneeland said in a Wednesday statement accompanying the results.

In a sign of confidence, United Rentals disclosed plans to spend $500 million buying back its own stock during the next 18 months.

NUMBERS: United Rentals earned $143 million, or $1.35 per share, in the quarter. That compared to net income of $73 million, or 70 cents per share, at the same time last year. If not for certain accounting items, the company said it would have earned $1.63 per share in the more recent quarter. Revenue increased 8 percent from last year to $1.31 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had anticipated adjusted earnings of $1.59 per share on revenue of $1.32 billion.

FUTURE: The company didn't project its performance for the current quarter ending in December. Management will discuss the latest quarter in a conference call that will be webcast at 11 a.m. EDT Thursday at http://tinyurl.com/lkhxwes.

STOCK: Shares of United Rentals gained $2.41, or 4.2 percent, to close at $59.79. Earlier in Wednesday's session, the stock reached a new 52-week high of $61.43. The stock has gained 76 percent in the past year. It slipped 29 cents in extended trading following the release of the earnings report.