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* Cashmere goods maker H1 sales rise 16.5 percent
* Sticks to double-digit growth forecast (Updates with details, CEO comment, analyst comment)
By Isla Binnie
MILAN, July 18 (Reuters) - Italian cashmere specialist Brunello Cucinelli reiterated its pledge to deliver double-digit full-year growth on Thursday as it posted a 16.5 percent rise in preliminary first-half revenue.
Sales hit 157.6 million euros ($206.32 million) for the period, driven by strong growth in the United States and Europe.
Chief executive Brunello Cucinelli forecast double digit growth in both revenue and profit for the full year, and growth of one percentage point even in recession-hit Italy, where first-half sales dropped 1.2 percent.
Shares in Brunello Cucinelli, which works its cashmere sweaters in a medieval hamlet in the leafy central Italian region of Umbria, have soared more than 80 percent over the past year, creating high growth expectations in the market.
"What I expect investors want to see from Brunello is continuing above average top-line growth, otherwise the multiple may depress," said Exane BNP Paribas analyst Luca Solca.
The luxury goods sector has held up in the face of constrained consumer spending in Europe and softening growth in China. French fashion house Hermes, whose market value is almost 20 times that of Brunello Cucinelli, reported 16 percent second-quarter sales growth on Thursday.
Cucinelli, who listed his firm on Milan's bourse last April, told Reuters he had no plans to sell new shares.
"For now, honestly, there are no projects, other than to work all day on the products, which is my passion," Cucinelli said. Fellow Italian cashmere company Loro Piana, bought by French conglomerate LVMH last week, was sold with "a veiled sadness", he said.
$1 = 0.7639 euros Reporting by Isla Binnie; editing by Patrick Graham