PARIS, July 26 (Reuters) - Maybelline maker L'Oreal posted higher underlying profits in the first half of the year, buoyed by strong sales in Asia and its luxury cosmetics unit that houses brands like Lancome.
The French cosmetics group said operating income grew 1.8 percent from a year ago to 2.58 billion euros ($3 billion), in line with the forecast by analysts in an Inquiry Financial poll for Reuters, while margins reached 19.2 percent.
Revenue was down 0.2 percent from a year earlier to 13.4 billion euros in the period but increased 6.6 percent on a like-for-like basis, which strips out currency fluctuations and portfolio changes.
In the second quarter alone, like-for-like sales rose by a slightly higher-than-expected 6.3 percent, compared to the 6.8 percent revenue growth notched up in the first quarter.
($1 = 0.8576 euros) (Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)