February 3, 2017 / 8:07 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Sweden's Skanska Q4 profit up as residential development surprises

* Q4 EBIT 3.30 bln SEK vs consensus 2.86 bln

* Dividend 8.25 SEK/share vs consensus 7.96 SEK

* Order intake 39.6 bln SEK vs consensus 34.4 bln (Adds details, background)

STOCKHOLM, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Swedish builder Skanska posted on Friday a surprise rise in fourth-quarter profits helped primarily by stronger-than expected performance at its residential property development business.

Skanska, whose single-biggest market is the United States, reported forecast-beating profits at all its property development businesses, which reached a combined record profit, and higher construction order intake than expected.

Operating profit grew to 3.30 billion crowns ($377 million) from 3.06 billion a year ago. The mean forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts was for 2.86 billion crowns.

Profit at its smallest unit Residential Development was nearly twice as high as expected at 680 million crowns. Chief Executive Johan Karlstrom told Reuters the improvement came on the back of more contracts and higher selling prices in a strong market, as well as cost controls.

A British motorway project sale contributed to the rise in group earnings, helping to offset impairments in its Commercial Property and Infrastructure Development units and writedowns at its Commercial Property Development business.

Order intake at the Construction unit, which accounts for the bulk of sales, increased to 39.6 billion crowns from 29.9 billion, against a forecast 34.4 billion.

Skanska said it expects new U.S President Donald Trump to increase investments into infrastructure in the country. Karlstrom said the effect would however not show in the number of tenders already in 2017.

Skanska proposed a bigger increase than expected in dividend for 2016.

$1 = 8.7620 Swedish crowns Reporting by Anna Ringstrom and Rebecka Roos,; editing by Niklas Pollard

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