PARIS, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Carrefour, the world's second-largest retailer, reported a 4.9 percent rise in first-half recurring operating profit as a sharp improvement in the profitability of its core French business offset weakness in Spain and Italy, and in Asia.
Chief Financial Officer Pierre-Jean Sivignon told reporters he was sticking with comments he made in July that he was comfortable with the market consensus for 2013 earnings before interest and taxes of around 2.2 billion euros ($2.93 billion), provided there is no big swing in Latin American currencies.
Europe's largest retailer said on Thursday that first-half recurring operating profit reached 766 million euros, slightly below the average forecast of 771 million in a Reuters poll of six analysts.
The robust performance in France, which contributes more than 40 percent of group sales, should further reassure investors that Chief Executive Georges Plassat's revival plan for Carrefour is starting to bear fruit despite a tough economic climate.
The plan entails offering shoppers lower prices and simpler products, renovating aging stores and giving store managers more autonomy after years of central planning. ($1 = 0.7496 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by James Regan)