* Net profit at 2.7 bln roubles vs 2.2 bln a year ago
* Foreign exchange gain 647 million roubles
* Like-for-like sales ahead of guidance (Adds more results, background)
MOSCOW, April 24 Russia's biggest search engine Yandex reported a 19 percent increase in first-quarter earnings after a foreign exchange gain helped to offset higher development costs.
Yandex, which is ahead of the world's biggest search engine Google in Russia with a market share of more than 60 percent, posted net profit of 2.7 billion roubles ($75.6 million), against 2.2 billion roubles a year ago.
The company said its higher expenses related to investments in growth, including new personnel and product development, though it benefited from a 647 million rouble foreign exchange gain.
Sales rose 36 percent to 10.9 billion roubles thanks to increased text-based advertising revenue, which accounted for 92 percent of total sales.
On a like-for-like basis, excluding the impact of Yandex.Money, in which Yandex sold a 75-percent stake to Sberbank in 2013, sales grew 39 percent.
That was ahead of the company's 25-30 percent full-year guidance, which Yandex reiterated on Thursday.
Rival group Mail.Ru also repeated its outlook while noting more challenging economic and political conditions.
Yandex had 51 billion roubles of cash at the end of March. Since March last year, it has repurchased 12.5 million of its shares from the market. ($1 = 35.7037 Russian Roubles) (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by David Goodman)