Shares in Gaz de France rose by more than 3% after the company announced impressive H1 profits and increased its profit targets.

Gaz de France posted H1 net profit of E1.7 billion, compared to E1.2 billion for the previous year. The French utility’s sales for the first half of the year reached E15.2 billion, up 37% (30% on a comparable basis) for the first half of 2005.

These increases were driven by both the company’s energy sale/distribution and exploration/production segments. Net sales for the exploration – production division reached E905 million in H1 2006, up 72% compared to H1 2005. The purchase – sale of energy segment, meanwhile, saw its net sales rise 32% to E11.6 billion.

GDF said that it is also continuing its development in Europe. During the first half of the year, sales of the group’s international activities reached E5.7 billion, an increase of nearly 57% over the corresponding figure for the first half of 2005, and on June 30, 2006, international activities accounted for nearly 38% of the group’s overall sales.

On the back of these impressive first half results, GDF has increased its profit targets, predicting full-year EBITDA growth of more than 20%, compared to the previous 12% growth forecast, and net income of over E2.2 billion.