PARIS, July 21 (Reuters) - French luxury goods group Hermes said on Friday it expected fist-half 2017 operating profitability to be close to the peak of 33.9 percent of sales achieved in the first half 2016 thanks to foreign exchange gains.
Hermes, known for its $10,000 Birkin bags and $400 printed silk scarves, made the forecast after sales growth slowed in the second quarter, broadly in line with expectations, and reflecting challenging year-ago comparables.
Hermes reported an 8.3 percent rise in revenue at constant exchange rates to 1.361 billion euros ($1.58 billion) compared with 11.2 percent growth in the first quarter. Analysts eyed around 9 percent growth on average.
Sales growth at its leather goods division, which makes up 50 percent of group sales, slowed to 9.7 percent from the 15 percent rise achieved in the first quarter.
Hermes said it was keeping an "ambitious" medium-term goal for revenue growth at constant exchange rates despite growing economic and geopolitical and monetary uncertainties.
$1 = 0.8595 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Leigh Thomas)