* Like-for-like sales up 6.2 pct, higher than forecast
* Q2 group reported sales 304.1 million euros
* Sees room to grow in United States, China
* Second half sales growth to be similar to first half
* Shares down 1.49 pct (Recasts to focus on U.S. emphasis, China trends, outlook, adds shares)
By Sarah White and Pascale Denis
PARIS, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Remy Cointreau on Tuesday said demand in the United States and China for its luxury cognacs helped to boost second-quarter sales, but the drinks group kept market expectations in check for the rest of the year.
The company, known for its Remy Cointreau cognac, Mount Gay rum and Cointreau liqueur, tempered any hopes that higher-than-expected second-quarter sales would translate into a major pick-up in the next six months.
Sales growth in the second half of its 2017-18 financial year, which runs until end-March, would be similar to the 7 percent notched up in the first half, finance director Luca Marotta said.
Remy Cointreau shares were down 1.49 percent at 1100 GMT.
In the July-September quarter, Remy Cointreau’s like-for-like sales, which strip out currency effects and disposals or purchases, rose 6.2 percent from a year earlier, beating analysts’ projections.
The company reiterated it would invest heavily in advertising, and said a strong euro currency could knock 7-8 million euros ($9.41 million) off net income for the year.
This added to “mild disappointment” over the outlook, Bernstein analyst Trevor Stirling said.
The company - which is focusing on spirits priced at $50 plus a bottle to bolster profit margins - was upbeat on markets such as China and the United States, where sales recovered from a softer start to the year.
It highlighted a chance to make inroads in the United States at a time the world’s biggest cognac firm Hennessy, part of France’s LVMH, is running low on stocks.
“There is new space,” Marotta told a conference call. “We have to profit from this moment to be more visible.”
LVMH said last week that production constraints around its lower-end “VS” cognac, which is popular with U.S. consumers, were unlikely to fade soon.
In China, where Remy Cointreau is, like its rivals, benefiting from a recovery in demand, the company is pushing its $3,000 a bottle top-of-the-range Louis XIII cognac.
Private consumption, including by middle-class households, is picking up in China, helping to offset the impact of an anti-corruption crackdown on expensive gifts in recent years.
Marotta said Remy Cointreau’s performance in China could improve further over the next three to five years.
French rival Pernod Ricard, which has chosen to launch cheaper brands in China, will publish a trading update on Oct. 19.
Remy Cointreau’s reported revenues came in at 304.1 million euros in the second quarter, up 3.2 percent on a non-organic basis.($1 = 0.8501 euros) (Editing by Richard Lough and Jane Merriman)