(Adds CEO comments, shares, analyst comment)
STOCKHOLM, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Sweden’s Elekta reported on Thursday a 32% rise in the value of new orders in its first quarter thanks to growing demand for its Unity radiation therapy system, although its earnings lagged forecasts.
Shares in Elekta, a rival to U.S.-based Varian Medical Systems, briefly surged as much as 7% after the results but then quickly gave up gains. They were up 0.4% by 0750 GMT, taking year-to-date gains to 24%.
The company, which is banking on Unity to drive future growth, said it had booked 13 Unity orders in the May-July quarter, helped by strong demand in Europe and Asia, and has now sold 60 units, putting it well on track to meet its mid-2020 target of orders for 75 systems.
“Elekta really kick-started the year,” CEO Richard Hausmann told Reuters. “I am very optimistic and confident about the future”.
Quarterly earnings before interest taxes and amortisation (EBITA) at the firm rose to 448 million Swedish crowns ($47 million) from 386 million a year earlier, while order intake climbed to 4.39 billion crowns from 3.17 billion.
Jefferies said in a research note that it viewed the report as “mixed but on balance encouraging”, with sales and orders above forecast, but earnings below.
Elekta affirmed its outlook for the 2019/2020 fiscal year of sales growth of 8-10%, based on constant exchange rates, and an EBITA margin of around 19%.
Elekta attributed a small quarterly rise in EBITA margin, to 13.9% from 13.7%, to one-off gains from a divestment in the year-ago quarter and relatively high research and development capitalization.
“I am pretty happy with the EBITA,” Hausmann said, adding the development was following company plans.
$1 = 9.6326 Swedish crowns Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard and Susan Fenton