WEX Inc., a South Portland-based company that processes credit card payments, reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday and said it expects to seek more acquisitions to help fuel its growth.

The company said adjusted net income totaled $44.1 million, $1.13 a share, compared with $41.8 million, $1.07 a share, a year ago. Wall Street analysts had expected the company to earn $1.09 a share.

Total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2013 rose 8 percent, to $182.3 million, from $169.0 million for the fourth quarter of 2012.

“We remain in excellent financial health, and our solid liquidity position enables us to continue pursuing our strategic plan for long-term growth,” Steve Elder, WEX’s chief financial officer, said in a prepared statement.

For the first quarter of 2014, WEX expects revenue in the range of $168 million to $175 million and adjusted net income in the range of $39 million to $42 million, or $1 to $1.07 per share.

For all of 2014, the company expects revenue in the range of $751 million to $771 million and adjusted net income in the range of $184 million to $191 million, or $4.70 to $4.90 per share.

“As we move forward into 2014, our guidance reflects our underlying organic growth as we position the company to enter the European fleet card market and continue to globalize,” Elder said.

WEX said it will continue to seek acquisitions, primarily in the card business involving fleets of vehicles.

In November, WEX agreed to acquire ExxonMobil’s Esso Card in a deal that is expected to add $35 million in annual revenue. Terms of that deal were not disclosed.

WEX has grown through a series of acquisitions, including the $369 million deal to buy the Fleet One fuel card company from private equity firms.

Other recent deals include buying 51 percent of UNIK SA, a Brazilian provider of payroll cards, for about $21.9 million, and acquiring CorporatePay, a London-based provider of corporate prepaid cards for the travel industry, for about $27.5 million in cash.

Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

jhall@pressherald.com

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