UPDATE 1-Pipe maker Vallourec cautious after beating 2017 profit forecasts

(Adds comments on guidance)

Feb 21 (Reuters) - French steel pipe maker Vallourec reported a gross operating profit for 2017 on Wednesday, bucking analysts’ expectations for a loss as it was helped by cost cutting and a rebound in oil and gas prices.

It said it made an operating profit of 2 million euros ($2.5 million) for the year, while analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a 9 million euro loss.

Vallourec was cautious on the outlook but it did not give precise guidance for 2018 earnings.

“Our business environment is also experiencing unusually high and unfavourable volatility in some consumable prices (e.g. electrodes) and in currencies, which would have a negative effect on our results,” the company said in a statement.

It said it expects a moderate increase in U.S. rig counts this year and stable drilling activity in Brazil.

$1 = 0.8117 euros Reporting by Camille Raynaud; Editing by Edmund Blair and Susan Fenton