UPDATE 1-Elevator maker Kone beats profit, dividend forecasts

(Adds shares, dividend, CEO quote, outlook)

Jan 28 (Reuters) - Finland’s Kone reported a bigger-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, saying demand for new elevators and escalators continued to grow in China, driving its shares up more than 3%.

Kone’s quarterly underlying operating profit rose 4% to 381 million euros ($461 million) versus 371 million expected by analysts, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

“We had a strong finish to the year. Our orders received grew in all regions and order margins were stable demonstrating strong competitiveness,” Chief Executive Henrik Ehrnrooth said in a statement.

In China, new equipment orders grew significantly in both, monetary value and in units, Kone said.

Kone said it would propose a total dividend of 2.25 euros, beating the market consensus of 1.75 euros.

Its share rose 3.5%, making it the top gainer on a weaker Helsinki bourse.

Kone forecast 2021 sales to grow 0-6% at comparable exchange rates, with adjusted operating profit margin at 12.4% to 13.4%. In 2020 Kone’s sales grew 1.4% at comparable exchange rates, while adjusted profit margin was 12.6%.

$1 = 0.8262 euros Reporting by Tarmo Virki in Tallinn; editing by Jason Neely and Emelia Sithole-Matarise