Rising fourth-quarter sales and "reassuring" guidance on margins have helped buoy shares in French retail giant Casino.

Yesterday evening (16 January), after the Paris stock market closed, Casino reported a 14.5% increase in fourth-quarter sales to EUR9.51bn (US$12.15bn).

Sales were helped by the opening of new stores in Thailand and Casino's move to further increase its stake in Brazil's largest retailer CBD. On an organic basis, Casino's fourth-quarter sales rose by 5%, or by 4.7% excluding fuel.

Casino's sales growth slowed during the fourth quarter. In 2011, its sales increased by 18.2% on a reported basis to EUR34.36bn. On an organic basis, Casino's sales in 2011 were up 6.3%, or by 5.7% after fuel was excluded from the numbers.

In France, Casino saw its fourth-quarter organic sales, excluding fuel, inch up 0.2%. In the third quarter, its sales rose 1.2% on the same basis. Monoprix sales increased, although sales at Casino's Géant hypermarkets fell.

Brazil and Colombia helped Casino's Latin American revenues. Sales in Thailand were helped by the integration of stores acquired from Carrefour at the start of the year, which offset the impact of the floods that hit the country and forced Casino to close stores.

Sanford Bernstein analyst Christopher Hogbin said Casino's management had provided a "reassuring" outlook on margins. Casino indicated it expects to file EBIT of EUR1.54bn for 2011, compared to analyst expectations of EUR1.51bn. In 2010, Casino's operating profit was EUR1.31bn.

Shares in Casino were up 5.17% at EUR65.75 at 12:57 CET.

Casino will report its full 2011 financial results on 28 February.