* Nokian Q4 EBIT 95 mln euros vs 81 mln euros in Reuters poll
* YIT Q4 core EBIT 17 mln euros vs 19 mln euros in poll
* Both forecast weak profits ahead in Russia (Releads, adds YIT results, analyst comments, share moves)
By Jussi Rosendahl
HELSINKI, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Finnish tyre maker Nokian Renkaat and builder YIT made up for falling Russian sales by growing in markets such as Central Europe and North America, results on Friday showed.
Nokian, which has a large plant near St Petersburg, and YIT, known as Russia’s biggest foreign house-builder, were hit last year by the fall in the rouble and weakened consumer demand.
Last year, Nokian generated about 17 percent and YIT 16 percent of sales in Russia, both down from 26 percent in 2014.
Nokian’s sales in Russia fell 34 percent last year, but were up about 5 percent in Europe and 25 percent in North America.
Its operating profit in the fourth quarter jumped 22 percent from a year ago to about 95 million euros, topping average analyst forecasts of 81 million euros.
For this year, however, Nokian expects flat sales and profits as Russia’s weak economy and high inventory levels in North America curb growth.
“Russia is becoming a permanently smaller market for them. They expect the Russian tyre market to come down 10-15 percent this year after falling some 20 percent in 2015,” said Nordea analyst Rauli Juva.
YIT said Russia’s economic uncertainty would continue hurting the country’s residential market this year.
It posted fourth-quarter results below market consensus but proposed a larger-than-expected annual dividend and forecast profit growth for 2016 on the back of growth in eastern and central Europe.
“This was a clear signal that things have turned for the better in the company,” said analyst Petri Aho from Inderes Equity Research.
Shares in Nokian rose 8 percent and those of YIT jumped 10 percent by 1127 GMT. ($1 = 0.8937 euros) (Additional reporting by Tuomas Forsell; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Alexander Smith)