UPDATE 1-Hexagon says demand picking up pace in Europe
* Adjust op profit EUR 118 mln vs forecast 119 mln
* Says solid demand also in aerospace, energy (Adds CEO comments, detail, background)
STOCKHOLM Oct 23 (Reuters) - Measurement technology group Hexagon said demand was picking up in the long-suffering European market, especially in the construction sector, as it posted a rise in third-quarter core earnings in line with expectations on Wednesday.
The company, market leader in a specialised sector straddling software and engineering hardware, said a stronger European construction market and new product launches had spurred growth in the quarter.
"We experienced solid demand in the aerospace, power and energy sectors, but faced weakness in the U.S. defence sector, as well as automotive, which is currently in the trough of its capex cycle," CEO Ola Rollen said in a statement.
Hexagon's core business Measurement Technologies grew 5 percent organically, which strips out currency swings and acquisitions, in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the firm's top market, a pickup from the 1 percent seen in the second quarter.
"I consider the third quarter a breakthrough. We saw tendencies toward a turnaround in the first and second quarters, but in the third it has turned into a broader upturn," Rollen told Reuters.
Adjusted operating earnings at the group, which sells under brands such as Leica Geosystems as well as its own name, rose to 118 million euros from a year-ago 115 million against a mean forecast of 119 million in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Hexagon, which has made two smaller acquisitions and launched a bid to acquire Norwegian oil services group Veripos for around $150 million this month, said group sales in the quarter were roughly flat at 577 million euros from a year-ago 578 million, lagging the 585 million seen by analysts.
Sales grew organically by 5 percent for the group, on par with the growth seen in the second quarter.
Growth in the Americas, which slowed compared to the second quarter, came mainly from the infrastructure, power and energy segments.
Link to full report: r.reuters.com/hev93v (Reporting by Sven Nordenstam and Johannes Hellstrom; editing by Alistair Scrutton and Niklas Pollard)