* EBITA 49 mln eur vs Reuters poll avg 53 mln eur
* Low sales generation, cost overruns hit profit
* Shares fall 3.8 pct (Adds shares, analyst comment)
By Georgina Prodhan
VIENNA, May 6 (Reuters) - Austrian machine builder Andritz AG said cost overruns and a low rate of conversion of orders into sales hit its first-quarter earnings, which missed market expectations on Tuesday, sending its shares down almost 4 percent.
Andritz said last month it had finally completed the Montes del Plata pulp mill in Uruguay which had been beset by repeated cost overruns and led to two profit warnings last year.
However it said on Tuesday that first-quarter profits had also been hit by other cost overruns, in its metals and solid-liquid separation businesses.
The firm builds plants and provides services for the hydropower, pulp and paper, environment, metals, animal feed and biofuel industries. It also sells technology to separate solids and liquids to municipalities and industry.
Adjusted earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) more than tripled to 49 million euros ($68 million) from a year ago, when the problems at the Montes del Plata plant first forced Andritz to warn on profits.
The results fell short of the average estimate of 53 million euros in a Reuters poll, sending Andritz shares down 3.8 percent to 42.16 euros by 0946 GMT, against a flat European industrial good and services index.
"This is attributable in particular to the project-related low sales generation and cost overruns on some projects in the Pulp & Paper, Metals (excluding Schuler) and Separation business areas," Andritz said in a statement.
Baader Bank analyst Christine Reitsamer wrote in a note: "Cost overruns for Metals and Pulp & Paper other than Montes del Plata are new for us."
Quarterly order intake, up 35 percent to 1.74 billion euros, was stronger than expected and Andritz reiterated it expected a significant improvement in net profit this year and a slight sales rise, including the consolidation of its Schuler unit.
Andritz acquired German peer Schuler last year.
$1 = 0.7205 euros Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Pravin Char