PARIS, Jan 17 (Reuters) - French supermarket retailer Casino said it would deliver on its group profit growth forecasts for 2017 despite posting slightly softer fourth quarter sales amid stiff price competition in its core French market.
Casino, which controls Brazil's Grupo Pao de Acucar , posted fourth-quarter sales of 10.01 billion euros ($12.3 billion).
Stripping out acquisitions, disposals, currency effects and fuel, group sales rose 3.2 percent year-on-year, a slight deceleration from 3.4 percent growth in the third quarter.
Casino, whose credit rating was cut to junk by Standard & Poor's in March 2016, is under pressure to revive profits in its biggest market which is France, where it now makes more than 50 percent of its sales, at a time of slower growth in Brazil.
In Brazil, its second-biggest market by revenue, food retail sales were driven by its Assai cash-and-carry stores despite continuing issues regarding food price deflation, Casino said.
Casino, which reports full-year earnings on March 8, said 2017 group operating profit should amount to 1.24 billion euros, a year-on-year rise of 20 percent.
Those profits should also be above 550 million euros in France, marking growth of around 10 percent.
($1 = 0.8168 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)