UPDATE 1-Dassault Systemes hikes 2021 earnings forecast, boosted by auto and clinical data

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April 28 (Reuters) - French software company Dassault Systemes on Wednesday forecast up to 23% earnings growth for the second quarter of 2021 and raised its full-year forecast, citing strong momentum in its clinical data services and a return to spending in the automotive industry.

Software from Medidata - a U.S. clinical trials business the group acquired for $5.8 billion in 2019 - was used in nearly two-thirds of COVID-19 trials and helped triple sales in its life sciences division last year.

“We are seeing strong momentum in life sciences, led by Medidata where software revenue increased 20% in the first quarter driven by Rave in clinical data management, Patient Cloud and Acorn AI,” finance chief Pascal Daloz said in a statement.

The group expects revenues from Medidata, whose software was used in trials for vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech ,, Moderna, and Britain’s AstraZeneca , to grow just under 15% for the full year.

Daloz said the firm, whose first-quarter earnings beat market forecasts, also benefited from a broad return to spending from global automotive leaders and electric vehicle start-ups.

“Of the 800 programmes worldwide across connected and electric vehicles, two-thirds use our solutions,” he told reporters in a call. “All these new entrants are starting to see strong growth.”

The group, which makes 3D design software and tech solutions for manufacturing, infrastructure and healthcare groups, expects non-IFRS earnings per share of 0.94-0.98 euros ($1.14-$1.18) for the current quarter, and 4.24-4.28 euros in the full year.

Analysts - who had judged the firm’s former 4.10-4.15 euro guidance conservative - estimated an EPS of just 4.17 euros for 2021. ($1 = 0.8282 euros) (Reporting by Sarah Morland in Gdansk Editing by Tomasz Janowski)