Investors have known for a long time that the infrastructure of the U.S. is in decay. Companies like MasTec (NYSE:MTZ) had hoped eventually to capitalize on spending to improve the nation's infrastructure, but it had to wait a long time for Washington to pay attention. Now, the new Trump administration has identified infrastructure improvement as a key priority.

Coming into Thursday's fourth-quarter financial report, MasTec investors wanted to see signs that the construction specialist would be ready and able to jump in whenever the federal government pulled the trigger. MasTec's results were strong, and the company is optimistic about its prospects in 2017.

Let's take a closer look at MasTec to see how it did and what it sees in its future.

Welder working on a pipeline fitting.

Image source: MasTec.

MasTec finishes 2016 strong

MasTec's fourth-quarter results were quite good. Revenue soared 31%, to $1.34 billion, outpacing even the ambitious expectations for 28% top-line growth that investors had. Adjusted net income more than tripled from year-ago figures, to $60 million, and that worked out to $0.70 per share in adjusted earnings. That was far better than the consensus forecast for $0.54 per share.

Taking a closer look at the report, MasTec got the bulk of its additional revenue and profit from recovery in the oil and gas segment. The division saw sales climb more than 60%, and adjusted pre-tax operating income was up more than 150% since last year's fourth quarter.

The electrical transmission area also did particularly well, as revenue climbed by about 40%, and the unit reversed a year-earlier operating loss with roughly break-even results. Power generation and industrial applications were more or less flat compared to the year-ago period, and the key communications segment saw a 14% rise in sales, even though the segment bottom line improved by just 1%.

Moreover, MasTec is seeing even greater future prospects because of better conditions in the energy markets. The company said that total 18-month backlog came to $5.4 billion as of the end of 2016, which works out to about a year's worth of revenue. Backlog for the oil and gas segment alone weighed in at $2.2 billion, which was a record level for MasTec.

CEO Jose Mas gave more color on just how well the energy segment is doing. "We exceeded our fourth quarter expectations," Mas said, "driven primarily by improved productivity in our oil and gas segment. We also signed pipeline contracts approximating $1.7 billion during the quarter." The CEO also highlighted the record backlog figures as a sign of improving energy markets.

Can MasTec do even better in 2017?

MasTec believes that momentum is on its side. In Mas' words, "We expect record results for our oil and gas segment in 2017 and continue to have clear visibility to continued opportunities in this segment for several years.

In addition, MasTec has worked to give itself the access to capital it will need to ramp up its operations if new infrastructure construction opportunities arise. The company said its new credit facility will increase its borrowing capacity by more than $250 million, and extend its maturity out to early 2022.

MasTec's guidance for 2017 reflects the growth ahead of the company. The construction specialist said that it expects a 7% boost in sales, to $5.5 billion in 2017, with adjusted earnings per share of about $2.35. That's considerably above the current consensus forecast for $2.09 per share in earnings. First-quarter projections for $1.05 billion in revenue and $0.51 per share in adjusted earnings were also above expectations.

MasTec investors were quite happy with the news, and the stock climbed more than 9% in after-hours trading following the announcement. With energy having recovered and new prospects for growth appearing on the horizon, this could be just the beginning of a long boom for MasTec's fundamental prospects going forward.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.