February 6, 2019 / 10:25 AM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Sweden's Hexagon reassures on China as solid results help lift shares

(Adds CEO comment, shares, background, detail)

STOCKHOLM, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Swedish industrial technology group Hexagon said it was confident about growth prospects in China despite signs of its economy slowing as it reported solid quarterly earnings, sending its shares higher on Wednesday.

Investors have been concerned about Hexagon’s exposure to an economically weaker China, which accounts for around a sixth of group sales, as well as slumping car sales and a slowdown in the electronics industry.

Speaking about the whole group, Hexagon Chief Executive Rollen said: “Despite the uncertainties surrounding the world economy, we are confident in our ability to continue to grow and strengthen our profitability”.

Rollen told a conference call that the electronics industry had weighed on growth in China in the fourth quarter, but said it had seen continued strong development in areas such as automotive, aerospace and manufacturing.

Shares of Hexagon, which competes to an extent with companies such as Trimble, Autodesk and Dassault Systemes, rose 9 percent by 0944 GMT.

The stock had been weak in the week ahead of the results.

Organic sales for the group rose 5 percent, in line with analysts’ expectations. Organic growth in China was 5 percent.

The maker of measurement and positioning systems and software reported operating earnings at the group of 271 million euros ($308 million) in the fourth quarter, up from 246 million euros a year earlier, and in line with the mean forecast in a poll of analysts.

Hexagon’s automotive business, an important end-market for the group, is mainly affected by shifts in car production technologies and designs of new models rather than global car production.

Rollen said the company was seeing rising activity in the development of electric vehicles in China and a boom in autonomous vehicles.

“We see huge investment efforts into autonomous vehicles,” Rollen said.

$1 = 0.8787 euros Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard and Louise Heavens

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