October 27, 2017 / 7:46 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Hexagon shares rise as sales growth picks up in Q3

(Adds shares, CEO comments, background, detail)

STOCKHOLM, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Measurement technology and software firm Hexagon reported a pick-up in third-quarter like-for-like sales growth and higher-than-expected core profit on the back of booming demand in China, sending its shares higher.

* Hexagon Q3 like-for-like sales growth was 6 pct, double the growth rate in Q2 and above the 4 pct forecast by analysts

* Adjusted operating profit rose to 206 mln euros ($240 million) from 180 mln in the year-ago quarter, beating a 201 mln forecast in a poll of analysts.

* Hexagon shares up 4.5 pct at 0730 GMT, taking its YTD gain to 31 pct and outperforming a 23 percent rise in the STOXX Europe 600 Technology index

* Hexagon said its China business recorded 19 pct organic sales growth with a strong development in all businesses, while demand in North America was strong mainly within infrastructure and construction

* Hexagon also cited its electronics business as a strong driver, where it counts some of the world’s biggest smartphone makers such as Apple, Samsung and Huawei among its customers

* The company said it still expected its heavily oil & gas exposed PPM unit, its most profitable business, to return to growth by year-end

* Hexagon CEO Ola Rollen said in a conference call with reporters he is optimistic that PPM can return to growth in FY2018

* Hexagon CEO said saw weaker Q3 demand in UK, still unclear if that is due to uncertainty over Brexit

* Norwegian prosecutors in March charged Rollen with insider trading in connection with a 2015 investment in Norway’s Next Biometrics Group ASA in 2015, a transaction which did not involve Hexagon

* The case has been a cloud hanging over Hexagon and the trial is set to start on Monday and continue for about a month ($1 = 0.8591 euros) (Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard)

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