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(Adds details, sales, forecast)
VIENNA, May 4 (Reuters) - Austrian engineering group Andritz reported a higher-than-expected net profit for the first quarter, supported by strong demand in its pulp and paper, and metals businesses.
Net profit rose 20 percent to 63 million euros ($68.63 million) in the three months to March, the group said on Thursday. Analysts polled by Reuters on average had expected 57.4 million euros.
Rising demand for pulp, particularly from Chinese paper producers, and new orders for its metals unit from international automotive suppliers helped lift its profit, Andritz said.
Order intake improved 25.1 percent to 1.56 billion euros, compared with an average forecast of 1.38 billion euros in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Sales increased 7.8 percent to 1.39 billion euros.
The group confirmed it expects to at least achieve stable sales and margins in the current year, based on solid demand for its machines for tissue and paper production and for the pumps it provides for hydropower plants. ($1 = 0.9179 euros) (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath and Subhranshu Sahu)