UPDATE 1-Finland's Kemira misses forecasts on mild winter

Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:19am EDT

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HELSINKI, April 23 (Reuters) - Finnish chemicals group Kemira reported a surprise fall in its quarterly earnings as a mild European winter cut sales of its de-icing products to airports.

The company also cited the higher euro foreign exchange rate hitting its sales as it posted an adjusted operating profit of 36 million euros ($50 million), down 14 percent from a year ago and missing analysts' average forecast of 42 million.

Kemira's ChemSolutions unit, home to its de-icing products, fell to a quarterly loss.

Last month, the group divested its troubled formic acid business as it focuses on its core water treatment operations.

Kemira repeated its full-year forecast for 5-15 percent profit growth.

Analyst Antti Saari from Pohjola Markets said the firm might need another cost-cutting programme.

"It looks like they lost cost control again ... the full-year outlook looks more challenging now, it requires a lot of work," Saari said.

He also said cutting costs promptly could prove difficult for Kemira as it is changing its chief executive next month.

Shares in the company fell 3.3 percent in early Helsinki trade, but recovered some ground and were down 0.9 percent at 10.60 euros by 0710 GMT.

Media reports have suggested that Kemira's Dutch peer Akzo Nobel might seek a buyer for its paper chemical operations with sales of 250 million euros. Pohjola analyst Saari said Kemira could be looking for such deal.

"The business and the asset's size would suit Kemira well, but the price could get quite high."

($1 = 0.7248 Euros) (Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Mark Potter)

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