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Renault vows to stay in black after 2012 profit fall

PARIS (Reuters) - French carmaker Renault pledged to increase full-year sales and stay in the black after profit fell 15 percent in 2012, weighed down by shrinking European auto demand.

Net income group share fell to 1.77 billion euros (1.5 billion pounds) on a 3.2 percent decline in revenue to 41.27 billion, Renault said in a statement on Thursday.

Operating profit will stay positive in 2013, excluding one-time gains and charges, after falling one-third to 729 million euros last year for an operating margin of 1.8 percent, Renault said. The core auto division nonetheless swung to a 25 million loss.

Renault also said it saw global sales picking up after a 6.3 percent decline to 2.55 million vehicles in 2012, against the backdrop of a 3 percent further market contraction expected in Europe.

The carmaker said it would propose a dividend payment of 1.72 euros, largely reflecting income from its 43.4 percent stake in Nissan , increasing last year's 1.16 euro payout.

December's 1.48 billion-euro sale of Renault's remaining stake in Volvo enabled the French carmaker to eliminate its net debt and report the auto division's first positive cash position since 1999.

(Reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by James Regan)