L'Oreal strikes upbeat note as H1 profits rise

PARIS, July 27 (Reuters) - Cosmetics company L'Oreal struck a confident note on Thursday as it posted higher first-half sales and profits, boosted by growth in luxury products and emerging markets.

L'Oreal said its first-half operating profit rose 7.1 percent from a year ago to 2.53 billion euros ($2.95 billion), while revenues increased by 4 percent to 13.41 billion euros.

According to a consensus forecast compiled for Reuters by Inquiry Financial, analysts had been predicting an operating profit of 2.56 billion euros and sales of 13.8 billion euros.

L'Oreal sold The Body Shop earlier this year and it said the earnings boost from that disposal, along with its first-half results, made it well placed for the rest of 2017.

"Over the full year, the sale of The Body Shop, and the accretive effect this has on profitability, means that we will be able to strongly increase our profitability, which for the first time could reach 18 percent of sales, and also to take the opportunity to strengthen our business drivers in order to accelerate our market share gains and thus our future growth," said L'Oreal Chairman and Chief Executive Jean-Paul Agon.

"This strategic choice, combined with the good first-half results, strengthens our confidence in our ability to once again outperform the cosmetics market in 2017, and to achieve growth in both our sales and profits," added Agon.

($1 = 0.8580 euros) (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Pascale Denis; Editing by Andrew Callus)