* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.3 pct, hits seven-year high
* Drop in euro seen boosting earnings by 10-13 pct
* European corporate results better than U.S. earnings (Adds detail and quotes)
By Blaise Robinson and Alistair Smout
PARIS/LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - European shares rose in early trading on Thursday, helped by forecast-beating results, to extend sharp gains made in the previous session, although Sabadell dropped after making a bid for TSB.
Shares in German potash and salt miner K+S gained 5.9 percent and Dutch marine engineering company Boskalis added 2.4 percent after reporting better than expected results.
As Europe’s earnings season draws to an end, Thomson Reuters StarMine data shows that companies have reported a 15.9 percent rise in quarterly profits - the biggest rise in European earnings since mid-2011 and well ahead of a 6.8 percent rise in U.S. quarterly profits - as European firms start to reap the benefits of a weaker euro.
The stand-out faller was Spain’s Banco de Sabadell , down 9.3 percent after making a takeover bid that valued the British bank TSB at around $2.6 billion. TSB rose 25 percent.
At 1140 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.3 percent at 1,578.97 points.
The index hit a fresh seven-year at 1,581.42 points earlier in the session, building on a 1.5 percent rise on Wednesday that had been fuelled by a drop in the euro.
The currency has fallen by about 25 percent against the dollar over the past year, giving a major boost to European companies as roughly 50 percent of euro zone earnings come from outside the region.
Analysts have said every drop of 10 percent in the euro against a basket of currencies should translate into a 6 to 8 percent rise in European profits.
The single currency has extended its losses since the European Central Bank started its quantitative easing campaign this week, accentuating the monetary policy divergence between the euro zone and the United States.
“Draghi is achieving his goal so far, and he’s getting help from the United States, and the potential for higher rates there,” said Veronika Pechlaner, European equity fund manager at Ashburton.
“We think exporters will benefit most from the euro weakness, as well as those with dollar earnings, such as healthcare. That’s where we’re overweight.”
The UK’s FTSE 100 index was up 0.8 percent, helped by a rebound in energy shares rising along with oil prices, while Germany’s DAX index was down 0.2 percent after hitting a record high, and France’s CAC 40 was down 0.2 percent.
European bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up
Editing by Kevin Liffey