PARIS, March 8 (Reuters) - French retailer Casino said on Thursday that it aimed to grow profits further in 2018 thanks to cost savings and improving sales in France and Brazil, as it posted a 20.1 percent rise in its 2017 operating profit.
Casino, whose credit rating was cut to junk by Standard & Poor's in March 2016, is under pressure to show it can revive profits in its main market of France at a time of slower growth in Brazil, its second-biggest market by revenue.
It kept its 2017 dividend unchanged at 3.12 euros and vowed to improve cash flow and cut its net debt this year.
Operating income rose 20.1 percent to 1.242 billion euros ($1.54 billion), in line with the company's guidance for profits of 1.24 billion euros given in January.
Casino said its French operations achieved operating profits of 556 million euros in 2017, also in line with the company's guidance for profits above 550 million euros.
($1 = 0.8060 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)