* Oil and gas order input up 232 pct in 39 weeks to Oct. 1
* Confident for 2011 after surge in upstream orders
* CEO says Q4 oil and gas orders won’t match Q3 spike
* Company benefits from shift to oil shale
* Shares down 2.9 pct (Adds detail, CEO comment, analyst comment, share price)
By Sarah Young
LONDON, Nov 1 (Reuters) - British engineer Weir Group (WEIR.L) raised its forecast for full-year profits after oil company appetite for pumps spiked in the third quarter.
The maker of pumps and valves said on Monday order input from customers operating in the upstream oil and gas space rose 232 percent in the 39 weeks to the beginning of October, compared to a rise of 166 percent in the first half of the year.
Chief Executive Keith Cochrane said Weir, whose products are also used by mining and power generation companies, had seen “an exceptional third-quarter spike” in its oil and gas business.
“We do recognise that is not something that’s going to occur every quarter at that sort of level. I wouldn’t expect the same level of input in the fourth quarter of this year,” he told Reuters in an interview.
Weir said the surge in orders from oil and gas companies would help it would enter 2011 with a strong order book given the lag time between orders being converted to revenues.
Shares in Weir fell 2.9 percent to 1,513 pence by 1200 GMT. Analysts said the statement was positive but cited profit-taking after Weir’s shares gained 117 percent since the start of 2010.
“Weir typifies global presence with high market shares in niche growth markets...The model has much further to run,” said Evolution analyst Harry Philips, who raised his target price to 1,800 pence from 1,450 pence.
Strengthening demand for Weir’s equipment was fuelled by customers in the North American shale market, where its pumps are used in fraccing — forcing sand and chemicals into rock formations to push out gas, and increasingly oil.
Cochrane said Weir was benefiting from a shift to oil shale extraction at locations such as Eagle Ford in Texas, in which China’s CNOOC (0883.HK) has bought a stake, as its customers looked to develop their equipment accordingly. [ID:nN11129508]
“It reduces our upstream business dependence on just the gas price,” he said.
Weir said its mining business saw equipment orders pick up 33 percent for the 39 weeks to October versus 29 percent in the first half. Strong demand for maintenance work would boost its profits this year more than it had previously expected.
Weir is expected to post a full-year pretax profit of 278 million pounds ($443 million), according to a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of 13 analysts.
The company which joined Britain’s FTSE 100 index in September said the strong performance of both oil and gas and mining offset weakening demand from customers in the power and industrials sector.
(Editing by Paul Hoskins and Michael Shields)