(Corrects headline and first paragraph to show orders did not lift operating profit)
COPENHAGEN, April 29 (Reuters) - The world’s largest wind turbine maker Vestas received record orders and posted forecast-beating operating profit in the first quarter, lifting the Danish company’s share price by as much as 4 percent on Friday.
Vestas, the world’s largest wind turbine maker, is benefitting from a new focus on renewable energy generation, encouraged by the Paris global climate summit last year.
The order intake for the quarter was 2,403 megawatts (MW), up from 1,750 MW the year before, with large orders from countries including the United States, China and Norway.
Operating profit before special items was 85 million euros ($96.8 million), up from 79 million euros a year ago. Analysts polled by Reuters had on average expected 60.8 million euros.
“These are strong results, also looking at the order intake, which turned out better than what I and the market had expected. That supports the visibility going into 2017,” Jyske Bank senior analyst Janne Vincent Kjaer said.
Vestas’ shares rose 4 percent to 465 crowns, making it the third-biggest gainer on the Stoxx 600 index.
While Vestas is the market leader, it would be pushed off that pedestal if rivals Siemens and Gamesa go through with a planned merger.
Vestas also said it broke its own record with combined order backlog and service agreements between January and March of 18 billion euros ($20.50 billion), 3 billion more than a year earlier.
The wind turbine backlog order was 8.6 billion euros and service agreements with contractual future revenue was 9.4 billion at the end of March 2016.
Vestas maintained its full-year guidance for a minimum 9 billion euro revenue, an operating profit margin before special items of 11 percent and a free cash flow of a minimum 600 million euros.
The company’s free cash flow turned negative in the first quarter at minus 296 million euros compared with positive free cash flow of 146 million euros a year ago.
$1 = 0.8781 euros Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; editing by Susan Thomas