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Oct 27 (Reuters) - Finnish engineering firm Valmet VALMT.HE posted third-quarter earnings that beat market expectations on Tuesday and repeated its call for a merger with valves maker Neles NELES.HE.
Valmet said its quarterly earnings per share rose 12% from a year ago to 0.38 euros, above the average 0.33 euros expected by analysts in a Refinitiv Eikon poll.
Valmet forecast an improvement in its full-year underlying operating profit earlier this month.
"The short-term market outlook for pulp, and board and paper is good," Chief Executive Pasi Laine said in a statement.
Valmet, which bought nearly 30% of Neles during the quarter, is opposing Swedish engineer Alfa Laval's ALFA.ST takeover bid for the valve maker, proposing that it merges with Neles instead.
Valmet said it had bought Neles shares for a total of 453 million euros ($535.4 million) in the third quarter.
CEO Laine repeated its call for a merger which the Neles board turned down earlier this month.
"We see that the combination would create excellent long-term value to the shareholders of both companies," Laine said.
"It has excellent industrial logic and would form a strong platform for further business growth especially in automation systems and valves."
($1 = 0.8461 euros)
(Reporting by Tarmo Virki in Tallinn Editing by Kirsten Donovan and David Holmes)
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