TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan's Foxconn <2317.TW>, the world's largest contract electronics maker and a key Apple Inc <APPL.O> supplier, reported on Friday 4.2 percent growth in fourth quarter net profit from a year ago, defying expectations for a decline.

 

Net profit in the final three months of 2017 reached T$71.66 billion ($2.46 billion), up from T$68.77 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to a Reuters calculation based on the full year 2017 results of Foxconn, known formally as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.

 

It was well ahead of the T$60.75 billion forecast by eight analysts polled by Thomson Reuters SmartEstimates.

 

For 2017 as a whole, Foxconn's net profit totaled T$138.7 billion, down 6.7 percent from 2016, the company said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

 

($1 = 29.1030 Taiwan dollars)

 

(Reporting by Twinnie Siu and Meg Shen; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Peter Graff)