* Q1 order intake 21 bln SEK vs forecast 22 bln
* Q1 EBIT 4.2 bln vs forecast 4.4 bln
* Says expects flat demand in near term (Adds detail, analyst comment, share price)
STOCKHOLM, April 29 (Reuters) - Compressor and machinery maker Atlas Copco said it expected flat demand after a bigger-than-expected fall in first-quarter earnings due to a slowdown in mining sector spending that has hit global engineering companies.
Shares in the Swedish company were down 3.3 percent by 0920 GMT to underperform declines of about 0.5 percent in the Stockholm bourse’s blue-chip index and the European Industrials index.
Deep cuts in investment by mining firms facing softer prices for commodities such as coal, copper and gold have begun weighing heavily on order bookings at equipment makers like Atlas Copco in recent months.
“Demand for our equipment weakened somewhat as the mining sector and much of the European region continued to struggle,” chief executive Ronnie Leten said in a statement.
Last week, Nordic competitors Sandvik and Metso posted sharp falls in order intake while Caterpillar Inc, the world’s top mining and construction gear maker, cut 2013 forecasts due to weak demand from mining customers.
Atlas Copco, which with Sandvik supplies more than half the global market for underground mining gear, said first-quarter order intake fell to 21.0 billion crowns ($3.20 billion) from a year-ago 24.8 billion, below the 22.0 billion seen by analysts.
Operating profit at Atlas, which also makes a wide range of compressors, construction gear and industrial tools, fell to 4.16 billion crowns versus a year-ago 4.61 billion and a mean forecast 4.44 billion in a Reuters poll of analysts.
“This came in a bit lower on order intake than the market had expected, and, in combination with the somewhat lower sales, this is of course a disappointment,” Handelsbanken Capital Markets analyst Peder Frolen said.
“The estimates need to continue coming down for Atlas, mainly as a function of a lower top line this year.” ($1 = 6.5685 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Niklas Pollard and Johannes Hellstrom, additional reporting by Veronica EK; editing by Patrick Lannin)