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* H1 sales up 2.4 pct to 572.9 mln stg
* H1 adj pretax profit up 6.3 pct to 132.6 mln stg
* Raises interim dividend 8.1 pct to 26.75 pence/shr
July 24 (Reuters) - British chemicals firm Croda International Plc reported a 6 percent increase in first-half profit as the company sold more higher-margin products and strong demand in North America offset softness in Europe.
The company, which counts Procter & Gamble Co, Unilever Plc, L'Oreal SA and Estee Lauder Cos Inc among it customers, said adjusted pretax profit rose to 132.6 million pounds ($205.68 million) from 124.8 million pounds a year earlier.
Sales rose 2.5 percent to 572.9 million pounds, driven by a 6 percent increase in sales at its core consumer care division, which supplies chemicals to the healthcare, agriculture and personal care industries.
The results prompted the company to raise its interim dividend 8.1 percent to 26.75 pence per share.
"The group's progress during the period was largely driven by continued success with innovative, higher-margin products which boosted overall returns," the company said.
Croda's results were helped by a 4 percent increase in average prices.
The company typically passes on higher raw material costs to customers and has been raising prices on some of its products since April.
The FTSE-100 company also said it had bought Italy-based biotechnology company Istituto Di Ricerche Biotechnologiche (IRB) for 7.5 million euros.
Shares of the company closed at 2229 pence on Monday on the London Stock Exchange. They have gained 24 percent so far this year.