(Adds CEO comments, details, shares)
STOCKHOLM Feb 11 Measurement technology group
Hexagon said it saw improving demand ahead as it
posted Q4 sales and operating profit in line with expectations
on Tuesday, sending shares higher.
Operating earnings at the group, which sells under brands
such as Leica Geosystems as well as its own name, rose to 136.7
million euros ($186.56 million) from a year-ago 133.6 million
and against a mean forecast of 138 million in a Reuters poll of
Sales rose to 631.7 million in the quarter from 629 million
a year ago, corresponding to organic growth of 5 percent, driven
by a recovery in the European construction sector and a strong
development in the oil and gas segment.
"Looking ahead, we see improving market conditions in our
core industries across EMEA, China and Americas and stabilizing
demand from the defence sector," the company, the market leader
in a specialised sector straddling software and engineering
Hexagon CEO Ola Rollen told Reuters that demand had
continued to slowly improve this year, and that organic sales
were seen growing by at least 5 percent in 2014.
"Overall demand is going in the right direction, it's
stabilising and getting better and better", Rollen said.
The group's sales have been pressured by significantly lower
demand from the U.S. defense segment for several quarters, but
Rollen said there were indications so far this year of those
sales bottoming out.
Hexagon shares rose 4.3 percent after the report, sharply
outperforming a 0.7 percent rise in the broader OMXS-index
in Stockholm at 0830 GMT.
Its shares have risen roughly 8 percent so far this year
compared to an 8 percent decline for U.S. competitor Trimble
($1 = 0.7327 euros)
(Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; Editing by Alistair Scrutton)