* First-quarter EPS C$0.37 vs C$0.25
* Revenue up 15 percent at C$457.7 million
* Reuters Estimates EPS view C$0.25, revenue C$415.3 mln
* Shares climb 5.3 percent (Adds details, updates stock price)
OTTAWA, April 22 (Reuters) - Industrial equipment supplier Toromont Industries TIH.TO reported a stronger-than-expected 44 percent gain in quarterly profit on Wednesday, reflecting growth in its compression system sales, but it said a weak economy had hurt bookings and backlogs.
The Concord, Ontario-based company said its first-quarter profit was C$23.7 million ($19.1 million), or 37 Canadian cents a share, for the three months ended March 31, up from C$16.5 million, or 25 Canadian cents, a year earlier.
Analysts, on average, expected earnings of 25 Canadian cents a share, before items, on revenue of C$415.3 million, according to Reuters Estimates.
The company’s shares were up C$1.27, or 5.3 percent, at C$25.26 on the Toronto Stock Exchange after the results were issued at midday on Wednesday.
Toromont, which sells, rents and services a broad range of Caterpillar heavy construction and industrial equipment, and makes and installs compression systems, said revenue was up 15 percent at C$457.7 million.
Caterpillar Inc. CAT.N reported its first quarterly loss in 17 years on Tuesday due to charges of more than $500 million related to recession-triggered layoffs. [ID:nN21451172]
“We are on the downside of the natural gas cycle and this has impacted booking levels in the first quarter. Our equipment group is also experiencing reduced bookings due to the general economic slowdown,” said Chief Executive Robert Ogilvie in a statement.
“We expect that recently announced infrastructure programs will have some positive impact beginning later this year...we are well positioned to ride out this recession.”
Equipment group bookings in the quarter were down 44 percent from the same period last year as demand weakened in most regions and for most products, Toromont said. Backlogs were down 11 percent from Dec. 31.
Compression group bookings were down 56 percent on lower demand for natural gas compression systems in the United States and Canada. Backlogs were down 8 percent, the company said.
Revenue at the equipment group fell 5 percent in the quarter as a decline in new and used machine sales was partly offset by higher product support revenue.
Compression group revenue rose 36 percent on growth in U.S. natural gas compression package sales.
$1=$1.24 Canadian Reporting by Susan Taylor; editing by Peter Galloway