Finnish engineering firm Metso (MEO1V.HE: Quote) reported a better-than-forecast quarterly profit on Wednesday, sending its shares sharply higher despite guidance for lower sales and earnings in a challenging 2009.

Earnings before interest and tax rose to 190.1 million euros ($247.8 million) in October-December from 179.7 million a year ago, beating analysts' average estimate of a rise to 183 million but within the range of forecasts.

Metso shares leapt 14.1 percent to 8.56 euros by 1045 GMT.

(The rise) is most likely because the result was not as bad as it could have been, and the share has been down lately, said Ohman analyst Jari Harjunpaa.

Metso, which makes paper and pulp machines and mining and construction equipment, said 2009 would be challenging and sales and operating profits would fall.

We estimate that our 2009 net sales will... exceed 5 billion euros and our profitability will be satisfactory, Chief Executive Jorma Eloranta said in a statement. Net sales in 2008 totalled 6.4 billion euros.

The company said it will need to adjust to weaker demand.

The focus of Metso's management has shifted from growth to profitability and cash flow, the company said in a statement.

The aim is to quickly adjust the capacity and the cost structure to correspond with the demand, it added. ($1=.7672 Euro) (Editing by Hans Peters)

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