* Top-40 gains 1.7 percent
* Richemont outperforms
JOHANNESBURG, April 23 (Reuters) - South African stocks booked their biggest rise in seven weeks on Tuesday, advancing 1.7 percent after luxury goods maker Richemont soared on a rise in full-year profit.
Shares of SABMiller jumped 3.2 percent to 490.23 rand after the global brewer said its ailing chief executive was stepping down three months earlier than planned.
Sentiment on Africa's biggest bourse was also helped as investors bet Johannesburg stocks had fallen too far in recent weeks.
"It's coming off the back of a bad performance over the last couple of weeks and a lot of analysts saying it was bound to happen after the good performance over the last year," said Nishlen Govender, an investment consultant at asset manager Allan Gray.
But even after the recent selling stocks were still expensive, Govender said, adding traders were moving into defensive shares, those less sensitive to the swings of the economic cycle.
"Defensive stocks are the ones to go to in a market that's priced quite high."
The benchmark JSE Top-40 index gained 1.73 percent to 34,166.27 and the broader All-Share index rose by 1.5 percent to 38,742.43.
The Top-40 is down nearly 2 percent this year after a 22 percent jump last year.
Richemont, the maker of Cartier watches and Mont Blanc pens, booked its biggest one-day rise in a year, soaring 7.1 percent to 72.29 rand, after it said full-year profit rose by about 30 percent on favourable exchange rates.
Trade was highly active with 210 million shares changing hands, according to preliminary bourse statistics. Advancers outpaced decliners 175 to 114. (Reporting by Zandi Shabalala; writing by Helen Nyambura; editing by David Dolan)