UPDATE 1-Finland's TietoEvry eyes return to growth in 2nd half of 2021

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HELSINKI, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Nordic IT services provider TietoEvry on Wednesday reported a rise in its fourth-quarter profit as cost cuts outweighed a hit to sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, and said it expects to return to revenue growth later this year.

The company, which finalised the acquisition of Norway’s Evry in December of 2019, reported an adjusted operating profit of 106.4 million euros ($128.6 million), rising from a pro forma 105.2 million a year ago.

Revenue for the October-December quarter dropped 8.5% to 712 million euros and the full year saw a decline of 5.6%, the company said, and gave a 2021 forecast of between minus 1% and plus 2% for the top line.

“Currently we estimate the overall business to return to growth during the second half of 2021,” TietoEvry said in a statement.

The revenue of the company’s cloud and infra unit declined 14% to 227.3 million euros in the fourth quarter, although this was expected to be a temporary drop, it added.

$1 = 0.8273 euros Reporting by Essi Lehto, editing by Terje Solsvik