UPDATE 1-Oil group Total raises dividend and plans share buyback as 2017 profit soars

profit soars@

* Plans $5 bln share buyback over 2018-2020

* Q4 adjusted net profits rose 19 pct (Adds comments from Pouyanne)

PARIS, Feb 8 (Reuters) - French oil and gas major Total's net adjusted profit soared 28 percent in 2017 to $10.6 billion, enabling it to announce plans to reward shareholders with dividend increases and a share buyback.

The strong results were driven by production growth, which rose 5 percent in 2017, Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said.

"Our results are good, and we remain top of the class," Pouyanne told journalists.

He added that Total planned some $2 billion of acquisitions in 2018, and that the company would return to a normal rhythm regarding staff hiring, after a three-year freeze.

Total's net profit in the fourth quarter of 2017 rose 19 percent to $2.9 billion, compared with analysts' average forecast of $2.8 billion. Oil output was at 2,613 kboed compared with analysts' average forecast of 2,649 kboed.

Total rewarded shareholders with a 10 percent increase in dividends over the next three years. The 2018 interim dividend will rise 3.2 percent, and it plans to buy back up to $5 billion shares over the 2018-2020 period.

Total's rival BP said earlier this week that its 2017 profits had more than doubled to $6.2 billion on the back of higher prices and output, allowing the company to resume share buy-back as it recovers from a three-year oil downturn.

However, Exxon Mobil and Chevron posted rare quarterly earnings misses earlier this month, as cost cuts and rising oil prices failed to offset weakness in international refining operations. (Reporting by Bate Felix Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)