French insurance group AXA reported strong underlying results on Friday, said it was well on track to fulfil a new strategy and targets, and signalled that chief executive Henri de Castries is set for a new four-year term in 2014. The group reported a 3.0-percent fall in net profit for the first six months of the year but this was mainly owing to a book-keeping effect of interest-rate hedging, and operating profit jumped by 14.0 percent. The price of shares in the group was showing a gain of 2.51 percent to 17.17 euros in early trading. The overall French market was up 0.11 percent. The net profit for the first half was 2.47 billion euros ($3.3 billion), which was in line with forecasts by analysts questioned by AFP. The operating profit was 2.58 billion euros. The operating outcome exceeded expectations, and reflected a rise of 3.4 percent in sales from the equivalent figure last year to 50.0 billion euros. The company also increased the return on equity relative to current operations from 13.5 percent to 16.5 percent. De Castries said that the results for the first half of the year were strong, combining growth and performance. AXA said that the numbers were in line with its strategic plan called \"Ambition Axa\" published on Friday. This sets out a target up to 2015 for annual growth of operating profit of between 5.0-10.0 percent, and a return on equity to current operations of 13.0-15.0 percent. The board said it had decided to put before the next general assembly of shareholders in April 2014 a proposal to re-appoint de Castries for another four years. He has been chief executive since 2010, having previously been board chairman for 10 years.