By BridgeNews SAP AG, Europe's largest software company, reported first-quarter net profit more than doubled and says it has extended its first-half sales growth forecast of 23% to the first nine months. Net profit rose to 117 million euros (US$103.40 million) in the first quarter, up from 56 million in the same period last year, above analysts' expectations. Earnings per share increased to 0.36 euro from 0.18. First-quarter sales rose 29% on the year to 1.5 billion euros. SAP, based in Walldorf, Germany, says it remains confident about its operations in the first three quarters of the year, despite the current "challenging" environment. The extension of the 23% sales growth forecast surprised some analysts, who had taken issue with SAP's prediction that the sales would grow by 23% in the first half alone. First-quarter revenues rose most strongly in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. In the Americas revenues rose 26% and in the Asia-Pacific region they were up 28%.