* Q1 EBIT at 648 mln eur vs Rtrs poll avg 676 mln
* Q1 sales at 4.43 bln eur vs Rtrs poll avg 4.34 bln
* Confirms 2015 guidance (Adds details, background)
FRANKFURT, May 7 (Reuters) - German consumer goods group Henkel on Thursday posted a smaller-than-expected increase in first-quarter operating profit, reflecting more challenging conditions in several regions, particularly in eastern Europe.
The company, prominent in Russia, warned again that the economic environment remained challenging and that it expects business in Eastern Europe to remain difficult.
Russia is Henkel’s fourth-largest market with annual sales of about 1.1 billion euros.
Henkel warned in March that it may take a bigger than previously expected hit to its operating profit due to the crisis in Russia and Ukraine this year.
Henkel’s first-quarter earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rose to 648 million euros ($736 million), compared with an average forecast of 676 million euros in a Reuters poll.
The company spent 54 million euros on restructuring spending, nearly double the amount it spent last year, it said.
Sales increased to 4.43 billion euros, helped by currency effects due to the strong U.S. dollar, the company said, beating estimates of 4.34 billion euros.
The United States is Henkel’s largest single market.
Sales in the U.S., which have proved difficult for Henkel over the past months thanks to tough competition and intense pricing pressure, remained flat in the three-months to end March.
The maker of Persil washing powder and Schwarzkopf hair products reiterated it expects 2015 organic sales growth of 3 to 5 percent and its adjusted EBIT margin to rise to around 16 percent from 15.8 percent in 2014. ($1 = 0.8806 euros) (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Noah Barkin/Hugh Lawson)