Unexpectedly strong growth in high-margin packaged software licences fuelled quarterly earnings of Europe's largest software company SAP. 

SAP said its second-quarter operating profit, excluding special items, rose 9% to €1.52 billion, beating average analysts' expectations of €1.45 billion in a Reuters poll. 

SAP, whose customers include many of the world's biggest multinational corporations, specialises in business applications ranging from accounting to human resources to supply-chain management.

It and its established rivals such as Oracle and IBM are racing to fend off pure cloud software rivals like Salesforce.com and Workday in the market for running complex business operations. 

Cloud software, which is delivered via the internet, has lower profit margins than packaged products, of which SAP sold more in the second quarter. 

Software licences rose by 10% to €1.04 billion, excluding the effect of foreign exchange rates. Analysts were expecting a rise of 1.8% to €997m. 

Oracle, IBM and Microsoft have all reported better than expected results in recent days, saying their cloud strategies were paying off. 

SAP said it still expected full-year operating profit to come to between €6.4 billion and €6.7 billion. 

Analysts polled by Reuters forecast a 2016 profit of €6.61 billion, with individual estimates of 18 analysts ranging from €6.42 billion to €7.05 billion. 

The company's chief executive Bill McDermott told journalists that SAP did not experience a negative impact from Britain's decision to leave the European Union. 

Some analysts had expected a negative effect following the June 23 Brexit vote. 

Software companies traditionally generate 50-60% of their quarterly licence business in the last two weeks of the quarter.