Metro AG , the world's fourth largest retailer, reported flat first-quarter sales, missing expectations, and confirmed its forecasts for the year. The German group, which runs cash and carry markets, electronics outlets, department stores and hypermarkets, said on Tuesday the late timing of Easter meant sales came in at the prior year's level of 15.5 billion euros.

Taking the Easter period into account, 4-month sales were up 1 percent, the group said.

This tells us we continue on a profitable growth course, Chief Executive Eckhard Cordes said in a statement.

The group reported first-quarter earnings before interest, tax and special items of 145 million euros.

Analysts were expecting adjusted EBIT of 150 million euros and sales up 0.9 percent to 15.65 billion, according to a Reuters poll.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan)