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Atlas Copco Profit Beats Estimates on U.S. Industrial Demand

Atlas Copco AB, the world’s largest maker of air compressors, reported profit that beat analysts’ estimates as North American industrial demand “remained healthy,” sending its shares up the most in almost four months.

Third-quarter net income fell to 3.48 billion kronor ($520 million) from 3.6 billion kronor a year earlier, the Stockholm-based company said today in a statement. That exceeded the average estimate of 3.42 billion kronor in a Bloomberg survey of 16 analysts.

“The compressor business had strong growth compared to expectations,” Martin Prozesky, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in London with a market perform rating on Atlas Copco’s shares, said by phone. “It’s doing much better than the industrial cycle suggests it should do.”

Atlas Copco, which benefits when metals prices are high because miners buy more rock drills and blast-hole rigs, said near-term demand “is expected to decrease somewhat.” New orders rose 1.1 percent to 21.4 billion kronor in the quarter. Chief Executive Officer Ronnie Leten said Atlas would continue to put a “strong focus” on cost control and that the company will adapt capacity if necessary.

Atlas Copco rose as much as 7.8 kronor, or 5.2 percent, the biggest intraday gain since June 29, and traded up 2.6 percent at 154.90 kronor as of 12:25 in the Swedish capital.

Price, Volume

Price increases and higher volumes combined added 2 percent to order value for the company’s compressor business in the quarter, beating the 7 percent decline that Prozesky said he’d expected. Increased orders from gas and process industries and more demand for the higher-margin after-market business boosted the unit in the quarter. Sales for the division rose 4.1 percent to 8.6 billion kronor in the quarter while total sales were up 6.5 percent to 22.1 billion kronor.

“We are pleased with the profitability we have achieved and with how sales developed considering the mixed market conditions,” Leten said in a separate release.

Demand in the quarter was healthy in North America with higher compressor orders even as mining and rock excavation equipment orders slipped compared with a year earlier, the company said. In Europe, orders also decreased, it said. Atlas Copco generated 21 percent of sales in North America last year, up from 18 percent in 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Sales at the company’s Industrial Technique division, which makes industrial power tools and assembly systems, rose 26 percent to 2.28 billion kronor.

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