(Adds details, CFO comments from call)
PARIS, April 15 (Reuters) - French retailer Casino said growth slowed in the first quarter, reflecting a still lacklustre performance in France, despite price cuts there, while an economic slowdown in Brazil hurt the sales of its consumer electronics business.
Casino, which controls Brazil’s Grupo Pao de Acucar , however stuck to its full year goals after it posted first-quarter sales of 11.9 billion euros ($12.61 billion), in line with the average of analysts’ expectations.
Stripping out acquisitions, disposals, currency effects and fuel, sales rose 2.7 percent year-on-year, a slowdown from the 3.1 percent growth recorded in the fourth quarter.
Casino also underperformed larger rival Carrefour, which last week achieved like-for-like sales growth of 3.2 percent, including an 8.4 percent sales growth in Brazil.
Casino, which makes 60 percent of its sales abroad, reiterated it expected sustained organic growth at its international business and higher underlying group operating profit this year.
Casino notably expects to be rewarded for its price-cutting strategy with a higher operating profit in its home market this year after feeling the impact of lower margins in 2014.
Retailers across Europe, including Carrefour and Tesco , have struggled as shoppers’ disposable income has been squeezed by subdued wage growth and austerity measures.
Most have responded with price cuts.
In France, Casino has cut prices in its Geant hypermarkets and its discount arm LeaderPrice.
Same store sales at the French Geant hypermarkets fell 1.5. percent in the first quarter after falling 2.3 percent on the same comparable basis in the fourth quarter 2014.
Same-store sales at discount chain LeaderPrice, where Casino has also been cutting prices, were down 5.6 percent while sales at Casino supermarkets fell 1.4 percent. Sales at the Monoprix convenience store chain were however positive.
The company has also been expanding for a number of years in the fast-growing emerging markets of Thailand, Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia, away from weaker growth in Europe.
First-quarter international sales grew 3.7 percent year on year, with same store food sales in Brazil rising 4.9 percent against 2.1 percent growth in the fourth quarter 2014.
But consumer electronics sales in Brazil, which are more sensitive to an economic slowdown fell 2.7 percent on a same store basis after rising 1.2 percent in the fourth quarter 2014.
$1 = 0.9435 euros Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Andrew Callus