March 2, 2017 / 11:03 AM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-JCDecaux's shares hit 8-month high as earnings beat forecasts

(Adds details, shares, analyst comment)

March 2 (Reuters) - French outdoor advertising company JCDecaux on Thursday reported a smaller than expected drop in full-year operating profit, helping to send its shares to an eight-month high.

The family-run company, which generates around half its revenue in China, France and the UK, has been battling an economic slowdown in China as well as uncertainty linked to the French presidential elections and Brexit.

The company reported a 7-percent decrease in full year adjusted operating profit to 646.5 million euros ($681 million), ahead of analysts' expectations due to a better-than-expected performance by the transport division.

The transport division reported full year adjusted operating profit of 182.0 million euros, down 9.7 percent. The drop was less than analysts had predicted due to the ramp up of airport contracts in North America.

Shares in the company were up more than 4 percent by 1044 GMT having earlier hit an 8-month high.

Jefferies analysts, which have a "hold" rating on the stock, said that the "slightly negative" first quarter adjusted organic revenue growth target was better than their own expectations.

Overall the company said its profitability was affected by integration costs related to its acquisition of CEMUSA, an outdoor advertising group with operations in Spain, the United States, Brazil and Italy, as well as the contract structure of its advertising franchise with Transport for London (TfL).

$1 = 0.9493 euros Reporting by Alan Charlish in Gdynia. Editing by Jane Merriman

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