* H1 net profit up 16 pct to 301 mln euros
* Sales up 23 pct to 2.53 bln euros
* Confirms 2012 outlook
* Shares down 0.6 percent (Adds CEO comment, detail)
By Elena Berton
PARIS, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Essilor International, the world’s largest maker of corrective lenses, said new products and expansion in high-growth markets would help it meet full-year targets, as the French group posted a 16 percent rise in first-half profit.
Chief executive Hubert Sagnieres told reporters on Friday Essilor continued to target a 2012 operating margin of around 18 percent, in line with 17.9 percent recorded in its first half.
First-half sales rose 22.8 percent, or 6.6 percent on a like-for-like basis, driven by new higher-margin products such as anti-reflective lenses, rising demand in emerging markets and the weaker euro.
Like-for-like growth in the second quarter was slower, held back by shrinking sales of costly opthalmic instruments and tough markets in Italy, Portugal and Spain.
Essilor said it was still aiming for revenue growth of 12-15 percent excluding currency, or 6-9 percent on a like-for-like basis including bolt-on acquisitions.
“Essilor reported an organic growth of 4.8 percent in the second quarter, fairly below consensus expectations of 5.5 percent,” UBS analysts said in a note to clients.
Shares in Essilor, whose product range spans reading glasses that sell in India for the equivalent of a few euros to high-performance lenses costing hundreds, were down 0.6 percent to 70.18 euros by 0840 GMT, lagging a 0.6 percent higher blue-chip CAC40 index.
First-half net profit rose to 301 million euros ($376 million), on sales of to 2.53 billion.
Essilor shares have risen around a quarter in value this year. ($1 = 0.8001 euro) (Editing by Lionel Laurent and Dan Lalor)