UPDATE 1-Chinese developer Country Garden's 2018 core profit up 38 pct at record

* Core profit 34.13 bln yuan vs 33.81 bln yuan SmartEstimate

* Revenue jumps 67 pct

HONG KONG, March 18 (Reuters) - Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd, China’s top property developer by total sales, reported core profit for 2018 rose 38 percent to a record, in line with forecasts of analysts, on robust revenue and higher margins.

The results confirm the trend for the sector, with most of the major developers in the country reporting record profits. Analysts, however, said the sector might see earnings growth slow or even profit falls from the second half as more expensive land costs eat into margins on the back of slowing national sales.

China’s property sales by floor area fell 3.6 percent year-on-year in the first two months of 2019, official data showed, while new home prices grew at their slowest pace in 10 months in February in sign of slackening demand as the economy cools further.

Country Garden said in a statement on Monday its core profit, which is net profit excluding non-recurring income and revaluation gains, grew to 34.13 billion yuan ($5.08 billion) last year.

That compares to the 33.81 billion yuan Refinitiv SmartEstimate. SmartEstimates improve upon the accuracy of the average estimate by placing a higher weight on recent forecasts and on top-rated analysts.

Net profit rose 33 percent to 34.6 billion yuan, while revenue was up 67 percent at 379.1 billion yuan.

Country Garden’s shares, which have gained 24 percent so far this year, rose 4.4 percent on Monday prior to the announcement of the results. The broader market was up 0.7 percent.

In a statement, the company said it will adopt new technologies in its construction and modern agriculture businesses in order to raise competitiveness. (Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)