Renault SA says it is on track to record its projected 2.5% hike in full-year operating profits despite reporting first-half profits just 0.4% ahead of like-2005’s €590 million ($752 million).

The French auto maker reports an operating profit of €592 million ($755 million) for the year’s first six months of 2006. Strong sales of the Clio III, launched in September 2005, helped propel automotive operations to an operating profit of €323 million ($412 million), a jump of 1.6% over last year’s €318 million ($405 million).

Further, Renault expects to meet its mid- to long-term profit increases of 3.0% in 2007, 4.5% in 2008 and 6.0% in 2009.

Meanwhile, CEO Carlos Ghosn says a proposed tie-up with General Motors Corp. should go ahead only if the anticipated benefits are 10 times greater than the associated risks.

Among the most promising areas of cooperation is purchasing, he tells a news briefing. Small price advantages, spread across GM, Renault and Renault-partner Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., could reap significant profits, Ghosn says.