* First-quarter service bookings rise 3.7 pct
* Service makes up 71 pct of total bookings in the quarter
* Raises low end of 2014 profit forecast range
* Shares rise as much as 5.4 pct (Adds industry forecast, CEO comment; updates shares)
By Sagarika Jaisinghani
March 6 (Reuters) - Mining equipment maker Joy Global Inc said demand from miners for maintenance work was returning after more than a year of delay when its main customers struggled with a coal glut and weak prices.
Joy Global’s shares rose as much as 5.4 percent in early trading after the company also raised the lower end of its 2014 profit forecast range.
The company, which gets about two-thirds of its revenue from coal miners, reported a 3.7 percent rise in service bookings in the first quarter ended Jan. 31, the first quarterly increase in more than a year. Maintenance made up 71 percent of total bookings in the quarter.
“The ability to delay rebuilds and service on equipment in most regions appears to be nearing a conclusion,” CEO Ted Doheny said in a statement on Thursday.
Over the past year, top U.S. coal miners, including Peabody Energy Corp, Alpha Natural Resources Inc and Arch Coal Inc, have cut expenditure on mining equipment such as longwall shearers, giant shovels and draglines.
Joy Global said it expects global growth of more than 3.5 percent in 2014, with the Eurozone expected to report growth of over 1 percent for the first time in nearly two years.
Jefferies & Co analyst Stephen Volkmann said that the mining industry might be hitting a bottom, but any pick up would likely come only in 2015 or 2016.
Joy Global and Caterpillar Inc, the world’s largest mining and construction equipment maker, expect spending on new equipment to remain weak this year.
Joy Global’s total bookings fell 16 percent to $860.5 million in the first quarter.
The company, which also supplies to miners of copper, iron ore and other minerals, kept its forecast for 2014 sales of $3.6 billion-$3.8 billion but raised the lower end of its profit forecast range by 10 cents to $3.10.
Analysts on average were expecting earnings of $3.29 per share on revenue of $3.72 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Joy Global’s net income fell to $48.9 million, or 48 cents per share, in the first quarter from $142.1 million, or $1.33 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, the company earned 49 cents per share but missed the analysts’ average estimate of 64 cents.
Revenue fell 27 percent to $839.3 million but was above the $835.4 million analysts expected.
Joy Global’s shares were up 3.3 percent at $57.65 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
They had declined about 10 percent in the past 12 months to Wednesday’s close, compared with a 26 percent rise in the Dow Jones U.S. Industrials index. (Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Rodney Joyce)