Strong earnings lift European shares as UPM and BP rise

LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - European shares advanced on Tuesday after some encouraging company results, with pulp and paper maker UPM climbing after better-than-expected quarterly profits while BP also rose.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which closed 0.6 percent lower in the previous session, was up 0.5 percent in early dealings.

UPM shares rose 7.2 percent, the top gainer in the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, after the company said that cost cuts and strong pulp sales helped it to report a 34 percent rise in adjusted operating profit in the first quarter from a year ago.

BP rose 2.3 percent. Even though BP posted an 80 percent drop in first quarter profits, its earnings beat analysts’ expectations, and BP added it could cut capital spending further and held its dividend.

Shares in Whitbread, which runs Premier Inn budget hotels and the Costa Coffee chain, also rose 3.3 percent after saying its full-year underlying pre-tax profit surged nearly 12 percent.

According to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, 16 percent companies in the STOXX Europe 600 have reported results so far, of which half have met or beaten analyst forecasts.

Among mid-caps, Cobham slumped 20 percent after the British engineering company proposed a 500 million pounds ($724.80 million) rights issue to strengthen its balance sheet after warning that 2016 profits would fall. (Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)