Carrefour today (30 August) reported a fall in half-year profits but shares in the French retail giant rose as analysts had expected a steeper decline.

The French retail giant booked recurring operating income of EUR769m (US$965.3m), down 8.2% on the first half of 2011.

However, analysts had forecast profits to fall further. The average forecast of ten analysts polled by Bloomberg was for recurring operating income of EUR705m.

Shares in Carrefour were up 7.49% at EUR16.93 at 11:20 CET this morning.

Europe was a drag on Carrefour’s results. Recurring operating income from the retailer’s operations in Europe, excluding France, was down 32%. Earnings in France and Asia also fell but increased in Latin America.

Sales grew fastest in Latin America, where Carrefour saw revenues increase 8.3%. Sales in Asia were up 9.5% but slid 3% in Europe. In France, sales dipped 0.5% on the back of weak non-food sales. Group sales, however, increased 0.9% to EUR38.82bn.

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Carrefour’s net income from continuing operations was EUR199m, compared to a net loss on the same basis of EUR879m last year.

Figures for the first half of 2011 were given on a pro-forma basis to account for Carrefour’s decision to run its stores in Greece on a franchise basis and its planned exit from Singapore.

Carrefour has suffered in recent years, with lower sales at its hypermarkets eroding its market share in France. Its operations in Europe have also come under pressure.

New CEO Georges Plassat is expected to provide more detail on how he plans to turn around a business that has had a challenging few years later today.