CLICHY, France: L'Oréal, the planet's largest cosmetics group, on Friday unveiled its first-half results, confounding haruspices' expectation with a 19.6% leap in pre-tax profits to €1.5 billion ($550.1bn; £289.16bn).

The entrail-rakers had predicted a meager €1.25bn. But according to recently appointed ceo Jean-Paul Agon, the best is yet to come.

"The quality of these results and the prospect of sustained growth in the second half mean that we are very confident of achieving another year of double-digit earnings per share growth in 2006," he said.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff