So far, investors who've hoped that White House plans to implement infrastructure programs would come to fruition have been disappointed. Construction specialist MasTec (NYSE:MTZ) stands to be a big beneficiary of those plans if they ever happen, but it's also counting on the strength of key industries like the energy sector to help it recover some of the ground it has lost in recent years.

Coming into Thursday's third-quarter financial report, MasTec investors were prepared for slight declines in the company's bottom line, but they wanted to see revenue growth and signs of long-term progress. MasTec's results were better than most had expected and reflected a much better performance from the oil and gas industry. Let's look more closely at how MasTec did and what's ahead for the construction company.

Pipeline trench being dug by heavy equipment across a hilly grassland landscape.

Image source: MasTec.

MasTec looks more energetic

MasTec's third-quarter results came as a positive surprise for many. Sales skyrocketed by 23% to $1.96 billion, crushing the consensus forecast for just $1.65 billion in revenue for the quarter. Adjusted net income inched higher by just 3% to $68 million, but the $0.82 per share in adjusted earnings was higher than year-ago levels and topped the $0.74 per share that most investors were expecting to see.

Performance in the oil and gas segment was the sole contributor to revenue growth at MasTec. Segment revenue climbed by more than half to $1.16 billion, making up almost 60% of MasTec's total sales. By contrast, all of MasTec's other segments suffered declines in revenue, ranging from a 2% drop for the key communications business to larger declines of roughly 20% for the electrical transmission unit and the power generation and industrial segment.

From a profit standpoint, the picture was a little different. Adjusted pre-tax operating incomes fell in the oil and gas segment by roughly $10 million, but the company managed to make up those declines with incremental boosts to the bottom line from the other three segments. The electrical transmission business was particularly noteworthy, reversing a year-earlier loss to produce an impressive $8 million swing higher. More modest gains in communications and in the power generation and industrial segment also helped push operating profits higher.

Executives at MasTec were excited about how things have gone. "We had strong third quarter results," CEO Jose Mas said, and CFO George Pita echoed those remarks, saying that "We are proud of our year-to-date performance, including strong cash flow from operations."

What's ahead for MasTec?

MasTec sees a lot of potential for growth. "Since the end of the third quarter," Mas said, "we have received significant amounts of project awards across multiple segments and expect that our year end 2017 backlog will be at record levels exceeding $6 billion." Those awards should come from across all of its segments, not just in oil and gas. It's likely that acquisitions MasTec made earlier this year will play a vital role in meeting expectations on those projects and producing growth.

The full potential for MasTec made its way into its guidance for the fourth quarter and for 2017 as a whole. 2017 revenue should be about $6.3 billion, up another $300 million from its previous projection, and adjusted earnings per share of $2.80 would be $0.07 higher than its prior guidance. Fourth-quarter revenue of $1.3 billion and earnings of $0.36 per share are actually a bit lower than the consensus forecast among investors right now, but they give the company plenty of room to outperform during the rest of the year.

MasTec shareholders have had to deal with choppy movements in the construction specialist's stock price during 2017, and despite economic strength, that volatility is likely to continue until plans from the federal government about infrastructure spending are more fully known. For now, investors should be pleased with the way MasTec is rebounding in energy and can be hopeful that good times will continue for the company.

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.