* Q2 like-for-like order intake -17% to SEK 8.1 bln
* Reported operating profit matches forecast
* Says pandemic to hit demand in near term (Adds analyst comment)
By Johannes Hellstrom
STOCKHOLM, July 23 (Reuters) - Swedish mining gear maker Epiroc said on Thursday it expected the coronavirus pandemic to weigh on demand in the near term as it reported a quarterly earnings decline in line with market expectations and a steep fall in order intake.
The company, one of the world's top suppliers of underground mining equipment such as drill rigs, said second-quarter order intake fell 17% like-for-like as clients put the brakes on spending and pandemic restrictions hit mining activity.
"Our customers were hesitant to place equipment orders and restrictions led to lower customer activity, particularly in the beginning of the quarter, which impacted our aftermarket business negatively," CEO Helena Hedblom said in a statement.
Rival Sandvik last week reported a quarterly underlying order drop of 10% in its Mining and Rock Technology unit with demand hit by pandemic-related mine closures.
Operating earnings at Epiroc fell to 1.42 billion Swedish crowns ($160 million) from 2.26 billion crowns in the year-earlier quarter, matching analysts' mean forecast, according to data from Refinitiv.
The operating profit included items affecting comparability totalling 165 million crowns, the company said.
"All in, we see the results as "ok" but probably no better and that is likely not enough to support the shares this morning after a strong run," analysts at JPMorgan said in a research note.
Epiroc shares, which had risen around 10% this month, were down 4.5% in early trading in Stockholm.
$1=8.8624 Swedish crowns Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; Editing by Niklas Pollard and Mark Potter