UPDATE 1-Aker Solutions core profit rises on boom in demand

Fri Nov 2, 2012 3:03am EDT

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OSLO Nov 2 (Reuters) - Norwegian oil services firm Aker Solutions said on Friday it expected demand to hold up in most of its markets after reporting third quarter earnings in line with forecasts.

Aker Solutions is benefiting from an exploration boom due to high oil prices, which have made it economical to explore in so-called frontier areas, creating a shortage of equipment and services.

The company has been tendering for major subsea contracts in the North Sea, Brazil, Asia Pacific and West Africa. It said its order backlog, up 33 percent from a year ago at 59.7 billion Norwegian crowns ($10.51 billion) at the end of the quarter, was at its highest level ever.

"The backlog stretches over several years, thereby providing greater visibility of future operations," said Oeyvind Eriksen, the firm's executive chairman.

"We remain on track to reach our objective of doubling in size from 2010 to 2015," he added.

But order intake, at 16.9 billion crowns in the quarter, was below analysts' average forecast for 19.1 billion.

Third-quarter pretax profit was 734 million Norwegian crowns, in line with analysts' mean forecast in a Reuters poll, compared with a loss of 214 million in the year-ago period.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), adjusted for one-off items in the year-ago period, rose 36 percent to 1.12 billion crowns, also in line with expectations, while the EBITDA margin fell to 10.1 percent from 11.4 percent in the second quarter. ($1 = 5.6828 Norwegian crowns) (Reporting by Victoria Klesty. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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