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Dassault Systemes raises targets for 2022, sets out succession plan

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Logo of Dassault Systemes in Brest
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(Reuters) - French software maker Dassault Systemes on Wednesday raised its annual profit forecast and reported first-quarter earnings that topped estimates, boosted by its industrial and clinical trial businesses.

The group, which sells software used to design cars and planes, raised its profit margin target to 33.4%-33.7% and that of its earnings per share to 1.04-1.06 euros.

Analysts polled by the company had in mid-April estimated the group would hit a margin of 33% and earnings per share of 1.01 euros, at the high end of the group's former guidance.

The group reported strong growth from its medical unit Medidata, which has been used in hundreds of COVID-related clinical trials, as well as its industrial offerings.

While it maintained its 9%-10% revenue growth forecast, it nudged up its target sum to account for foreign exchange.

Finance chief Rouven Bergmann told journalists in a call that the higher revenue would more than offset the costs of suspending business in Russia, which had accounted for roughly 0.5% of its sales.

Bergmann said the company had halted its operations there, adding that it had no employees or R&D activities in either Russia or Ukraine, where the business comprised only sales and services.

The group said it had expanded its workforce by 7%, notably in its R&D divisions.

Recovery in the auto and aerospace industries, alongside a global shift to online work, helped Dassault Systemes repeatedly raise its forecasts last year, though it had warned that pressure for higher salaries would weigh on profits in 2022.

The group also laid out a succession plan which would see Chief Executive Officer Bernard Charles take over as chairman when Charles Edelstenne, 84, retires next January, while Chief Operating Officer Pascal Deloz would become deputy CEO.

Edelstenne, who co-founded the group in 1980s, has served in a number of leadership positions at companies owned by the billionaire Dassault family, which also holds a quarter of defence group Thales and conservative newspaper Le Figaro.

(Reporting by Sarah Morland; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Subhranshu Sahu)

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