(Reuters) - French retailer Casino (CASP.PA) said it was confident about its medium-term growth prospects after it posted a higher operating profit last year, driven by strength in Latin America.
Casino, which bought Carrefour's (CARR.PA) Thai assets last year and is consolidating the acquisition of Casas Bahia in Brazil, pledged on Tuesday to deliver annnual sales growth of more than 10 percent over the next three years.
For 2011, Casino, whose domestic rivals include Carrefour (CARR.PA), Leclerc, Intermarche and Auchan, vowed to boost market share in its struggling French market.
With international operations making up 45 percent of the group's sales this year, Casino is banking on "high and profitable" organic sales growth abroad, it said in a statement.
Casino reported a 7.5 percent rise in 2010 underlying operating profit to 1.3 billion euros ($1.8 billion).
This reflected a decline in the operating margin in France following price cuts to revitalise sales at its Geant hypermarkets and Leader Price discount stores, and a higher operating margin abroad.
The average market estimate was for earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of 1.295 billion euros, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The group had given guidance of 1.29 billion euros, excluding the acquisition of Casas Bahia and after a tax adjustment.
Casino said it planned to pay a dividend of 2.78 euros per share for 2010, a year-on year rise of 4.9 percent. ($1=.7250 Euro) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by James Regan)