Atlas Copco proves resilient amid engineering gloom

STOCKHOLM Wed Oct 24, 2012 6:43am EDT

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Compressor and mining machinery maker Atlas Copco (ATCOa.ST) posted forecast-beating quarterly earnings on Wednesday and squeezed out a slight rise in orders in tough markets.

Though the Swedish company forecast lower demand for its products in the near term, its shares gained on the back of the third-quarter earnings, which were a rare beat of forecasts in the engineering sector.

"The Atlas Copco organization stands ready to perform well also in a more difficult situation," Chief Executive Ronnie Leten said in a statement.

Atlas Copco shares rose 4.5 percent after the news.

Atlas Copco and domestic rival Sandvik (SAND.ST), both major producers of mining gear such as drill rigs, crushers and loaders, have seen a mining boom falter in the face of a slowing global economy in recent months.

Quarterly order bookings at Atlas totaled 21.4 billion crowns ($3.22 billion) compared to a year-ago 21.2 billion.

Operating profit at Atlas, which makes a wide range of compressors and construction and mining gear, rose to 4.92 billion crowns ($739.16 million) from a year-ago 4.80 and a mean forecast for 4.79 billion in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Other companies in the sector have fared worse.

Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N), the world's biggest maker of excavators and tractors, this week slashed its 2012 forecast for a second time this year and said the economy was weakening faster than expected.

Truck maker Volvo (VOLVb.ST) earlier on Wednesday painted a gloomy picture for its sizeable construction equipment arm and cut some market forecasts for the unit.

(Reporting by Niklas Pollard and Johannes Hellstrom, editing by Patrick Lannin)

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