* Keeps medium-term objectives
* H1 underlying op profit ahead of consensus forecast (Adds detail, background)
PARIS, April 13 (Reuters) - French food services and facilities management group Sodexo posted a rise in first-half earnings and maintained its target for full-year sales and operating profit.
Sodexo, which is the world’s second-biggest catering company after Compass Group, said its first-half operating profit, before exceptional expenses, rose 7.7 percent from a year earlier to 723 million euros ($771.5 million).
The consensus operating profit forecast, according to forecasts compiled for Reuters by Inquiry Financial, stood at 697 million euros.
Sodexo, whose profit was boosted by solid performances in north America and Asia, said it expected operating profit growth between 8 percent and 9 percent over the full year and reiterated its medium-term objectives.
Sodexo’s performance echoed that of its rival Compass, which in February also maintained its full-year outlook.
Sodexo, whose clients range from the Royal Ascot Racecourse in England to the U.S. Marine Corps, kept its medium-term goal of average annual revenue growth of between 4-7 percent and average annual operating profit growth of between 8-10 percent.
Sodexo shares closed at 112.60 euros on Wednesday. The stock is up around 3 percent so far in 2017, slightly underperforming a 5 percent gain on France’s benchmark CAC-40 index. ($1 = 0.9371 euros) (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Vyas Mohan)