Demand from chipmakers boosts Atlas Copco third-quarter results, shares surge

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish engineering firm Atlas Copco ATCOa.ST reported forecast-beating third-quarter earnings and order bookings on Monday on the back of strong demand from chipmakers, sending its shares sharply higher.

FILE PHOTO: A Atlas Copco company logo is pictured at the "Bauma" Trade Fair for Construction, Building Material and Mining Machines and Construction Vehicles and Equipment in Munich, southern Germany, April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Dalder/File Photo

The strong numbers came against a backdrop of slowing global industrial demand and weakening manufacturing surveys from Europe and United States.

Strong demand from the semiconductor industry and for items such as large gas compressors has helped the firm, which also manufactures vacuum pumps and industrial tools, to weather that environment, it said.

“Order intake remained on a high level despite continuous uncertainties in the global economy,” Atlas Copco chief executive Mats Rahmstrom said in a statement.

However, the company said it expected near-term demand, by which it typically means in the current quarter, to be somewhat lower than in the third quarter.

“We have seen lower activity levels in some parts of the market,” Rahmstrom said, pointing to automotive and the manufacturing industry.

Atlas Copco shares were up 6.6% by 1140 GMT following the results.

The company “reported a strong set of Q3 numbers”, Carnegie analysts said in a research note, highlighting “blow-out vacuum orders”.

Order intake rose 6% organically to 27.1 billion crowns ($2.82 billion), beating analysts’ forecasts of 25.1 billion.

Its Vacuum Technique unit, whose client list includes Samsung 005930.KS, TSMC 2330.TW and ASML ASML.AS and which makes up around a fifth of group orders, soared 21%, while Compressor Technique, its biggest business area, was up 7%.

“For vacuum equipment to the semiconductor and flat panel industry, orders increased significantly, mainly driven by customers’ investments in new production technologies,” the company said.

Quarterly operating profit rose to 5.84 billion crowns, up from 5.26 billion a year earlier, ahead of the 5.50 billion mean forecast from a Refinitiv poll of analysts.

Order intake in the Industrial Technique unit, which holds the bulk of Atlas’ automotive exposure, was down 4% organically.

Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; Editing by Simon Johnson and Jan Harvey