(Recasts to reflect share reaction, adds details)
HELSINKI, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Finnish ship technology and power-plant maker Wartsila reported on Thursday a better-than-expected order intake that sent its shares up more than 4% at trade opening, despite a tough outlook for 2020.
“Order intake for both marine and energy-related equipment picked up in the fourth quarter, but was not sufficient to raise the order level to that of the previous year,” Chief Executive Jaakko Eskola said in a statement.
It was, however, enough to please the market, together with the board’s dividend proposal of 0.48 euros ($0.5325) per share, similar to the previous year.
“Orders at 1.55 billion euros were 15% ahead of JPM and 16% ahead of consensus with a book to bill of 0.92 compared to 1.22 in the prior year,” analysts J.P. Morgan wrote in a note.
Wartsila’s order intake decreased 17% to 1.55 billion euros ($1.72 billion) and its comparable operating profit dropped 10% to 202 million euros compared to the fourth quarter a year ago.
Wartsila reiterated its warning of a soft outlook for its ship technology and power plants in 2020 - news that caused its shares to hit a seven-year low in October.
“The business environment is expected to continue to be challenging during the upcoming year,” Eskola said.
Earnings per share for the quarter fell to 0.17 euros compared to 0.25 euros a year ago, burdened by tax charges related to previous financial periods and below the 0.28 euros expected by analysts in a Refinitiv poll.
$1 = 0.9014 euros Reporting by Anne Kauranen and Tarmo Virki; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne Editing by Shri Navaratnam and David Evans
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