UPDATE 1-Akzo Nobel Q2 core profit jumps 41% on high demand, cost cuts

(Adds details on earnings, comments, and background)

July 21 (Reuters) - Dutch paints and coatings maker Akzo Nobel said on Wednesday its second-quarter core profit surged 41% to 335 million euros ($394.3 million) as solid demand and cost-cutting measures helped offset an increase in raw material prices.

Analysts in a company-compiled poll expected adjusted operating income to increase to 346.9 million euros from 238 million euros a year earlier.

Akzo Nobel, which sells decorative paints and industrial coatings worldwide, recorded a recovery in demand after the steep fall due to the coronavirus crisis last year.

Sales improved 26% to 2.51 billion euros in April-June, slightly above analysts’ average forecasts of 2.44 billion euros.

“In view of the ongoing raw material inflation, we continue to take firm and necessary actions on pricing initiatives and maintaining our cost discipline, while remaining focused on serving our customers,” Chief Executive Officer Thierry Vanlancker said in a statement.

Akzo Nobel expects to grow in line with its relevant markets and plans to deliver an average annual 50 basis points increase in return on sales over the period 2021-2023.

Akzo Nobel’s U.S. rival PPG Industries this week posted its quarterly earnings, below expectations, as the company blamed COVID-19 supply chain disruptions for higher raw material costs.

$1 = 0.8495 euros Reporting by Anna Rzhevkina; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Sherry Jacob-Phillips