April 29, 2015 / 5:21 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Areva sales fall as nuclear sector remains in doldrums

* No pick-up in reactor maintenance, fuel sales

* Restructuring plan due at half-year earnings

* Market cap: link.reuters.com/veh64w (Adds background, detail)

PARIS, April 29 (Reuters) - French nuclear group Areva’s first-quarter sales fell 1.1 percent to 1.76 billion euros ($1.97 billion), with increased revenue from its uranium mining business insufficient to outweigh the broader industry’s continuing problems.

The nuclear industry has not yet recovered from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, with Germany and other countries phasing out nuclear capacity and Japan struggling to restart its closed plants.

Areva, which is 87 percent state-owned, made no comment on how it is progressing with its restructuring and financing plan and reiterated that details would be communicated to financial markets by the time its half-year financial report is published.

First-quarter revenue at the company’s core reactor operation fell 12.6 percent year on year to 598 million euros, earning less on services to its installed base of reactors in France while market conditions deteriorated in the United States and Germany.

Revenue from its nuclear fuel business slid 17.5 percent to 463 million euros on lower uranium enrichment volumes.

Only its uranium mining unit had a strong quarter, with sales up 137 percent to 344 million euros thanks to demand from France and China.

Its order book, at 47.52 billion euros at March 31, had shrunk by 1.4 percent from the end of 2014. It noted that this does not include the amount from agreements signed with French utility EDF in October 2013 for the EPR reactor project at Hinkley Point in the United Kingdom nor for the related fuel.

Areva has not sold a new reactor since 2007 but hopes deals signed in Turkey and Britain in 2013 will lead to confirmed sales.

The company, which is looking for an equity partner to help to reduce its crushing debt load, was hit hard by news that weak spots were found in the containment vessels of three of the four EPR reactors it is building in France and China. Tests will take months and if they are negative Areva would face massive costs to fix the vessels, which are already installed.

Areva posted a 4.8 billion euro loss for 2014, its fourth consecutive annual loss, and its stock is trading at its lowest in more than 10 years after falling nearly 60 percent over the past 12 months.

Its market capitalisation, which stood at more than 29 billion euros in 2007, has fallen to about 3.2 billion euros. ($1 = 0.8957 euros) (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by David Goodman)

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