Societe Generale warned it would struggle to reach its 2012 profit target as its exposure to Greece and a tougher economic backdrop took its toll on second-quarter earnings.

France's second-biggest bank said on Wednesday its aim of 6 billion euros ($8.55 billion) in net profit in 2012, reiterated in May this year, would now be difficult to achieve.

The ambition had long been doubted by analysts, who were predicting profit of 5.3 billion euros for that year, according to a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll.

Chief Executive Frederic Oudea pointed to an uncertain economic and financial environment in a statement, adding that the group had put in a resilient performance in the second quarter despite this backdrop.

Societe Generale's quarterly net income was below expectations, coming in at 747 million euros compared with the 1.15 billion euro average estimate from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

It was down 31.1 percent from a year earlier.

The bank took a 395 million euro pretax hit on its exposure to Greece because of its contribution to a bailout plan, while loan loss provisions increased.

These rose by 17.3 percent from a year ago to 1.185 billion euros and were 35 percent higher than in the first quarter.

Societe Generale has about 2.65 billion euros in Greek sovereign bonds, on which it will take a 21 percent loss.

Revenue also stumbled, falling 2.6 percent compared with the second quarter of 2010, dragged down by a drop at its private banking division.

At 6.5 billion euros, overall revenue was below Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S projections of 6.62 billion euros, according to the average of 12 analyst estimates.

Societe Generale did have a more resilient performance in some businesses, however, including in investment banking where revenue was nearly up by 5 percent, while retail banking revenue also rose.

The bank, which has been under constant scrutiny over its capital levels relative to peers, said its core Tier 1 ratio would reach 9 percent at the end of 2013 when tougher rules kick in, Oudea said.

This would put it above minimal Basel III regulatory requirements.

Its core Tier 1 ratio stood at 9.3 percent in the second quarter.

($1=.7017 Euro)

(Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by James Regan)