January 26, 2018 / 11:17 AM / in 24 days

Atlas Copco misses fourth-quarter profit expectations, forecasts stable demand

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Atlas Copco (ATCOa.ST) on Friday missed fourth quarter profit forecasts and forecast stable demand this quarter, knocking shares in the Swedish engineering company.

The maker of compressors and underground mining equipment said operating profit rose to 6.23 billion Swedish crowns ($791 million) from 5.79 billion, falling short of the 6.51 billion expected by analysts in a Reuters poll.

Adjusted operating profit was up 13.5 percent to 6.64 billion, topping the 12.6 percent advance expected by analysts.

The Swedish firm, which is planning to spin-off its mining and civil engineering business under the name Epiroc this year, proposed an ordinary dividend of 7 crowns per share and an extra payout of 8 crowns through a mandatory share redemption.

Analysts had expected a dividend of 8.26 crowns, including some expectations for a special dividend.

Orders in the fourth quarter were up 14 percent year on year on an organic basis at 30.4 billion crowns, in line with the 30.3 billion forecast by analysts.

It said it expected overall demand for the group to remain at the “current high level”.

    The shares, up nearly 30 percent in the past 12 months, were down 4 percent at 1251 GMT.

    ”A flat outlook indicates that things may have peaked given the extremely strong first quarter order intake last year, Handelsbanken Capital Markets analyst Peder Frolen said.

    “I also think there were expectations for an even larger dividend payout out there, and those two things are weighing on the stock.”

    Expectations were boosted ahead of Atlas Copco’s results by forecast-beating results from mining equipment maker Caterpillar (CAT.N) on Thursday.

    Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard and Elaine Hardcastle

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