UPDATE 1-Maersk first quarter profit lags forecasts; flags geopolitical, trade risks

trade risks@ (Adds details, background)

COPENHAGEN, May 17 (Reuters) - Shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk missed first-quarter core profit expectations on Thursday but kept guidance for the year unchanged, even though it flagged increased uncertainties related to geopolitical risks and trade tensions.

The Danish group's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for January-March totalled $669 million, well below the $852 million forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.

Earnings were affected by pressure on freight rates and higher unit costs among other factors.

Chief Executive Soren Skou called the results "unsatisfactory," especially in the ocean-related part of the business, and said he would implement "a number of short-term initiatives to improve profitability," without giving any details.

After being hit by a slump in shipping and oil industries in recent years, Maersk group is restructuring and divesting its energy businesses - including oil exploration, oil tankers and supply services - to focus on shipping, ports and logistics.

Skou, who in previous quarters played down the risk of a global trade war hurting the group's business, also noted "increased uncertainties due to geopolitical risks, trade tensions and other factors impacting container freight rates, bunker prices and rate of exchange."

Despite the disappointing results, Maersk said it still expects 2018 EBITDA in the $4 billion-$5 billion range.

Revenue between January and March stood at $9,253 million, beating analysts' forecasts of $8,755 million. (Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen Editing by David Goodman and Susan Fenton)