(REUTERS) -- U.S. mining equipment maker Joy Global Inc posted higher first-quarter profit, helped by stronger margins, and raised its 2012 forecast.

Joy Global, known for its giant shovels and draglines, said it now expects 2012 earnings of $7.40 to $7.80 a share, up from its prior outlook of $7.00 to $7.40 a share. It expects to gain from its investment in China's International Mining Machinery Holdings Ltd (IMM).

It also raised its 2012 sales outlook to between $5.6 billion and $5.8 billion from between $5.3 billion to $5.5 billion.

First-quarter net income was $142.4 million, or $1.33 a share, compared with $102.2 million, or 96 cents a share, a year ago. Net sales rose 31 percent to $1.14 billion.

Joy Global recently invested in IMM, which makes underground coal mining machinery, to expand in China's fast-growing coal market.

Shares of the Milwaukee-based company closed at $91.77 on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.