French drugs maker Sanofi reported a sharp rise in net profit for the first quarter on Tuesday and held its targets although its sales fell and shares slipped. The group, in line with many French companies reporting results in euros, said that unfavourable exchange rates had set back the final figures as expressed in euros. Sanofi said that in the first quarter net profit amounted to 1.08 billion euros ($1.5 billion), an increase of 9.7 percent from the equivalent figure last year, but sales fell by 2.7 percent to 7.8 billion euros. However, on a basis of constant exchange rates, sales rose by 3.5 percent. The price of shares in the pharmaceutical group dipped 1.62 percent to 75.90 in mid-morning trading, while the overall French market was down 0.34 percent. The group said that the results were in line with its expectations for the quarter, and said that for the whole of the year it was standing by its target of an increase in net earnings per share of 4.0-7.0 percent at constant exchange rates. Managing director Chris Viehbacher told a telephone press conference that the group had made a "very solid" start to the year but that exchange rate variations continued to weigh on the results.