AMSTERDAM/LONDON Akzo Nobel (AKZO.AS), the Dutch paint-maker struggling to avoid a 24.6 billion euro (20.58 billion pounds) takeover by U.S. rival PPG Industries Inc (PPG.N), on Wednesday reported better than expected operating profit for the first quarter.
Operating profit was up 13 percent to 376 million euros from 334 million euros in the same period a year earlier. Analysts polled for Reuters had put the figure at 337 million euros.
Akzo is due to release details of its plan to sell its chemicals division and remain independent later on Wednesday.
The company attributed the operating profit growth to a mix of higher sales volumes, which increased by 4 percent, and previous cost-cutting.
In an outlook for 2017, Akzo Nobel said it foresees operating profit will grow by 100 million euros in 2017 from the 1.50 billion euros it reported for the full year 2016.
The results "show the strong momentum we have", CFO Maelys Castella told reporters.
She said that the Dulux brand had led the company to its sixth consecutive quarter of growth in decorative paints.
Akzo Nobel said it sees Europe, North American and Asian markets strengthening, while Latin America will "stabilise."
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Stephen Coates)