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UPDATE 1-Finland's Wartsila Q3 earnings per share below forecast

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HELSINKI, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Wartsila posted third-quarter earnings per share below market forecasts on Friday, saying the COVID-19 pandemic continued to deter potential customers from investing in both its marine and energy markets.

The ship technology and power plants maker said quarterly earnings per share rose to 0.04 euros from a loss of 0.01 euros a year ago, lagging the 0.06 euros of earnings expected by analysts in a Refinitiv poll.

Following the COVID-19 slump, Wartsila’s order intake stabilised in the quarter against the previous year’s level, but net sales still decreased by 11% to 995 million euros ($1.2 billion), it said.

The comparable operating result jumped 55% to 61 million euros in the quarter, helped by cost savings, but Wartsila warned its profitability would continue to suffer from the effects of COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continued to limit the appetite for investments in both the marine and energy markets in the third quarter, resulting in depressed vessel contracting and the postponement of decisions on new power plant capacity,” Chief Executive Jaakko Eskola said.

Based on its current order book, Wartsila said it expected net sales for 2020 to decline by approximately 10%.

“While service demand is anticipated to improve, the seasonal pick-up is unlikely to be as strong as in previous years,” it said.

Shares in the company briefly fell more than 3% after the report but had recovered to trade up 0.6% by 1100 GMT.

$1 = 0.8442 euros Reporting by Anne Kauranen and Helena Soderpalm; Editing by Mark Potter

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