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Alfa Laval Profit Falls as Economic Slowdown Hurts Manufacturing

Alfa Laval AB (ALFA), the world’s largest maker of heat exchangers, said fourth-quarter profit dropped 3.6 percent as a global economic slowdown prompted customers in the marine industry to cut purchases.

Net income fell to 895 million kronor ($141 million) from 928 million kronor a year earlier, Lund, Sweden-based Alfa said today in a statement. Profit exceeded the 877 million-krona average of 13 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales decreased 0.4 percent to 8.12 billion kronor, beating the 8.09 billion-krona average estimate.

The 17 countries that share the euro entered a recession in the third quarter, and the U.S. economy shrank in the fourth. Alfa predicted on Nov. 20 that demand in the three months through December would match or fall “somewhat” from the previous quarter.

“We expect that demand during the first quarter 2013 will be on about the same level as in the fourth quarter,” Chief Executive Officer Lars Renstrom said in the statement. Order intake held up on the same high level as in the third quarter in the process technology division and was unchanged for the equipment division. Marine orders saw a “limited decline,” he said.

Waertsilae Oyj (WRT1V), a Helsinki-based manufacturer that competes with Alfa Laval in supplying engines to the marine industry, said Jan. 25 that the forecast for the shipbuilding market this year is “cautious, although slightly better than in 2012.”

Alfa Laval makes gear for cleaning wastewater and purifying ballast water as well as scrubbers that clean sulfur emissions on ships. It established a separate marine and diesel division last year after adding Aalborg Industries of Denmark in December 2010. The Swedish company said in November that a decline in shipbuilding contracts had stopped, though the manufacturer wasn’t able pinpoint when they would resume rising.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janina Pfalzer in Stockholm at jpfalzer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Thiel at sthiel1@bloomberg.net

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