UPDATE 1-Seismic surveyor TGS-Nopec profit beats forecast
* Q4 operating profit $120 mln vs forecast $111 mln
* Offers dividend of NOK 8.50 per share, in line with forecast
* To buy back shares for $30 million this year
OSLO, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Seismic surveyor TGS-Nopec posted fourth-quarter earnings that beat forecasts on Thursday, in contrast to recent profit warnings from other companies in the sector.
The firm, which maps the seabed to search for oil and gas deposits, offered a dividend of 8.50 Norwegian crowns ($1.36)per share for 2013, in line with expectations, and said it would buy back shares for $30 million this year.
Late last year, rivals Petroleum Geo-Services, CGG and Dolphin warned of lower earnings due to falling demand from oil companies, which are reigning in capital spending to protect margins and dividends.
TGS-Nopec's fourth-quarter operating profit rose to $120 million from $118 million at the same time last year, above the $111 million forecast in a Reuters poll of ten analysts.
"We increased our dividend from 8 to 8.5. That gives us a dividend yield close to 5.5 pct," Chief Financial Officer Kristian Johansen said. "We also introduced a share buyback programme and our intension is to cancel all these shares so that we can return even more to our shareholders."
"Customer interest in new projects is confirmed by our record backlog at the end of Q4," Chief Executive Robert Hobbs said in a statement.
($1 = 6.2428 Norwegian krones) (Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Erica Billingham)