* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.1 percent
* International focus pays off in earnings
* French, German GDP weigh on sentiment
By Toni Vorobyova
LONDON, Feb 14 European shares nudged higher on
Thursday, as a run of upbeat reports from companies exposed to
international markets outweighed weak French and German gross
domestic product readings.
Dutch staffing firm Randstad and Swiss engineering
group ABB both beat earnings' forecasts, helped by
growth in Asia and Latin America, while French car maker Renault
pledged to increase full-year sales on the back of
rising demand outside Europe.
To-date, 59 percent of STOXX Europe 600 companies that have
already reported results have beaten full-year earnings
expectations, compared to 71 percent of their U.S. peers,
according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data.
"We all know growth will be pretty weak for the euro zone
and it backs our view that we should see an outperformance of
growth stocks against value stocks because growth stocks are
more exposed to international growth," said Benoit Peloille,
equity strategist at Natixis, recommending U.S.-exposed
companies in particular.
The FTSEurofirst 300 was 0.1 percent higher at
1,167.41 points by 0946 GMT, after dipping into the red several
times in volatile early trade as investors balanced the
corporate numbers against the economic data.
The French and German economies both shrunk more than
expected in the final quarter of 2012, with France hit by
falling exports, data showed on Thursday, signalling a deeper
recession for the euro zone as a whole.
"It is kind of disappointing that Germany, which had shown
so much resilience is now showing signs of suffering from the
debt crisis," said Anita Paluch, sales trader at Gekko Capital
The German DAX underperformed, down 0.1 percent,
and the weak data also weighted on domestic-focused sectors,
with retailers down 0.5 percent.
Nestle was the biggest weight on the FTSEurofirst
300, after the food giant warned of a challenging year ahead.
"For Nestle standards we would call this a miss," analysts
at Liberum Capital said in a note.
Nestle shares were down 2.5 percent, taking 0.1 point off
the FTSEurofirst 300.
The overall mood, though, remained relatively upbeat, with
implied volatility on euro zone blue chips - a crude barometer
of investor risk aversion - falling to a one-week low.