* Q1 EBIT $94 mln vs $82 mln seen in Reuters poll
* Seismic sector has been hit by oil firms cutting costs
* Repeats 2014 guidance
OSLO, April 24 (Reuters) - Seismic surveyor TGS-Nopec on Thursday reported stronger-than-expected first quarter profits, a rare positive sign in an industry that has been hit hard by lower exploration spending from oil firms.
Seismic surveyors, which map the seabed for oil and gas deposits, have been hurt by cost cuts by energy companies that are seeking to protect margins and dividends after a decade-long spending boom.
Rival Petroleum Geo-Services warned in February its first-quarter results would be weaker due to lower demand from oil companies.
TGS-Nopec’s first-quarter operating profit rose to $94 million from $89 million at the same time a year ago, ahead of expectations for $82 million in a Reuters poll of analysts.
The firm said late sales in the quarter - sales of seismic data from its library collected in previous campaigns - were very strong.
“We had 137 million (dollars) of late sales ... so it’s a growth of 9 percent compared to Q1 2013. In fact, this is the strongest late sales in any Q1 in the history of TGS,” Chief Financial Officer Kristian Johansen said.
The firm repeated its guidance for 2014.
Since hitting a two-year low in December of 2013, TGS’ shares have since risen by 40 percent, outperforming a marginal rise in the Oslo benchmark stock index. (Reporting by Gwladys Fouche and Henrik Stolen. Editing by Jane Merriman)