(Adds detail, background, CEO comment, updates shares)
STOCKHOLM, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Sweden’s SKF, the world’s largest maker of industrial bearings, grew sales faster than expected in the third quarter and forecast slightly higher demand in the final months of 2018, giving its shares a brief boost in a jittery stock market.
The automotive sector has been under heavy pressure in recent months with car sales in China and Europe falling, and with big automakers such as Daimler and BMW issuing profit warnings.
Worries over a slowdown in the global economy has also hit industrial stocks in the wake of weaker Chinese purchasing manager indices and lingering trade tensions.
“We saw significantly higher sales volumes in our three largest regions: Europe, North America and Asia, driven by continued broad-based investments and activities in most of the industries in which we operate,” SKF Chief Executive Alrik Danielson said in a statement.
SKF shares initially rose as much 5 percent following its results but gave up most of the gains to trade 0.4 percent higher by 1150 GMT. The stock is down 20 percent over the past month, underperforming the European industrial sector.
The Swedish competitor of Germany’s Schaeffler said its outlook for the fourth quarter foresaw higher activity for its industrial business and only a slight decline for its smaller automotive business.
SKF derives about 70 percent of group sales from its industrial business and the rest from the automotive sector and its demand outlook largely chimed with that of its main rival.
Schaeffler cut its forecast for automotive revenues in September due to weaker demand in China and Europe, but kept its guidance for overall sales this year thanks to stronger orders at its industrial division.
SKF said its third-quarter operating profit rose to 2.60 billion Swedish crowns ($281.2 million) from a year-ago 1.97 billion, in line with a mean forecast of 2.61 billion in a poll of analysts. ($1 = 9.1046 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard)