* Q1 net profit 115 million euros, up 21 percent
* Sales up 12 percent to 1.56 bln euros, vs poll 1.55 bln
* Says looks at 2011 "optimistically"
* Shares close down 1.56 percent before results released
(Adds detail, CEO comment)
MILAN, April 28 (Reuters) - Luxottica (LUX.MI), the world's largest premium eyewear group, is looking to a positive 2011 after a strong start to the year in North America and key emerging markets, echoing optimism among luxury peers.
First-quarter net profit rose 21 percent to 115 million euros ($168 million), helped by higher demand in the United States, Asia and Latin America, the Milan-based maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley sunglasses said on Thursday.
"The results obtained in the first quarter are an excellent starting point for 2011. We look to the year optimistically," chief executive Andrea Guerra said.
Guerra said the sales trend in April was positive.
The group said in March profit growth could be twice that of sales in 2011 if revenue grew 7-8 percent, in line with last year. [ID:nLDE71R2BF]
First-quarter net sales rose 12 percent to 1.56 billion euros, compared with a forecast for 1.55 billion in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S/ poll.
Cash-rich Luxottica has said it was looking to buy small retail businesses in Latin America to offset slower growth in mature European markets.
LVMH (LVMH.PA), the world's biggest luxury group, and British company Burberry (BRBY.L) have posted forecast-beating first-quarter sales. [ID:nLDE73I08R]
Domestic rival Safilo (SFLG.MI) reported a first-quarter net profit of 18.4 million euros, up 6 percent.
Luxottica shares closed down 1.56 percent at 22.7 euros before the results were released. (Reporting by Antonella Ciancio and Sabina Suzzi; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter) ($1 = 0.6817 euro)