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UPDATE 1-Richemont posts solid April growth, launches share buyback

* Net profit up 3 pct to 2.07 bln euros in 2013/14

* Just misses forecast of 2.137 bln euros

* Full-year sales rise 10 pct at constant currencies

* April sales up 6 pct, hit by Japan

* Hikes dividend by 40 pct, launches share buy-back

(Adds CFO, analyst comment, detail, background)

ZURICH, May 15 (Reuters) - Cartier owner Richemont posted solid sales growth in April on top of the year to March as all of its regions reported growth except for Japan, where the picture was distorted by a tax hike.

The Geneva-based maker of luxury watches and jewelry also announced a 40 percent increase in its dividend and a three-year share buy-back program.

"Our dividend strategy is unchanged," Chief Finance Officer Gary Saage told reporters on a call on Thursday. "We want to increase it in a meaningful way over the long term."

The group did not provide an outlook but said in a statement it remained focused on long-term organic growth and value creation and intended to achieve this "by offering desirable high quality products and by enhancing (its) production, product development, and increasingly distribution".

April sales at constant exchange rates were up 6 percent, or 8 percent excluding Japan, where consumers rushed to buy big-ticket items ahead of a value added tax hike on April 1, the world's No.2 luxury goods group said.

"Sales growth at 6 percent in April shows continuing improvement, but at a more moderate level to what seen recently," Exane BNP Paribas analyst Luca Solca said.

"A higher dividend is another confirmation that Richemont is cash disciplined and probably one of the most investor friendly companies in the luxury sector," he added.

Richemont will propose a dividend of 1.40 francs per share, after 1 franc a year ago, well above a forecast for 1.10 francs in a Reuters poll.

For the year to March, sales rose 10 percent at constant currencies to 10.65 billion euros ($14.60 billion), just lagging a forecast for 10.733 billion. They were only up 5 percent on a reported basis, as a weak yen and tumbling emerging market currencies took their toll.

Net profit rose 3 percent to 2.067 billion euros in the fiscal year ended March 31, just short of a forecast for 2.137 billion euros in the poll.

Richemont announced a share buy-back of up to 10 million shares, worth around 873 million francs based on Wednesday's closing price, over the next three years.

The company also confirmed that former Chairman Johann Rupert, who is currently on a one-year sabbatical, will stand for election as chairman at the annual general meeting in September. ($1 = 0.7294 Euros)

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Sophie Walker)