* Gucci growth boosts Kering to fresh record highs
* Bic sinks 10 pct on results miss
* Lower license growth at Dassault drives selling
* European Q1 earnings seen +5.5%, revenues +5.7%
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By Helen Reid
LONDON, April 26 French luxury group Kering
hit a record high on Wednesday after reporting strong
sales and European shares hovered near a 20-month peak,
supported by a wave of earnings results that largely
outperformed market expectations.
The pan-European benchmark gained 0.1 percent in early
trading as luxury stocks and financials underpinned gains,
though some heavy fallers including French stationary maker Bic
and fertilizer producer Yara checked further
France's CAC 40 was little changed, just off the
nine-year highs hit earlier this week after the
investor-friendly centrist Emmanuel Macron progressed to the
second round of the French presidential election.
"We have had 25 percent of companies reporting, and a
majority of those have beaten estimates," said Emmanuel Cau,
global equity strategist at JP Morgan.
"Pretty much every single Eurozone data point out has
surprised to the upside, and this is driving upgrades."
Kering was the top gainer, up 10 percent after
surprisingly strong first quarter sales at Gucci and Yves Saint
Laurent helped the company beat market forecasts.
"We expect the Gucci turnaround to continue for at least
another quarter as the brand momentum continues," said Bernstein
luxury analyst Mario Ortelli.
Other luxury names across Europe rose on Kering's momentum,
with Moncler and Salvatore Ferragamo top of Italy's blue-chips,
and LVMH notching up another record high, up 1.7 percent.
Logitech also soared 7.9 percent, hitting a near
nine-year high, after posting a 52 percent increase in profit
and 15 percent rise in sales for its fourth quarter, surpassing
Fallers were led by Bic, which plunged 10 percent to a more
than two-year low, after its first-quarter net income and sales
fell on weak U.S. demand.
Fertilizer producer Yara fell 5.5 percent in
healthy volumes, after it missed first-quarter forecasts as
margins were squeezed by rising natural gas prices.
French software solutions company Dassault Systemes
fell 5.5 percent, set for its worst day in six months,
after it announced single-digit growth in new licenses in its
Analysts at Baader Helvea said this disappointed after
double-digit growth in new licenses drove the shares higher at
the end of 2016.
Credit Suisse, which kicked off much-anticipated
results for European banks with a beat and plans for a $4
billion cash call, rose 2.3 percent, outperforming the regional
Regional banks supported European gains after Standard
Chartered also posted robust results with profit doubling in
Overall, first-quarter earnings for STOXX 600 companies were
expected to rise 5.5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters
I/B/E/S data. Revenues are expected to increase 5.7 percent.
That compares to the 11.4 percent earnings growth expected
for top U.S. companies.
(Reporting by Helen Reid, Editing by Vikram Subhedar and