PARIS, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Essilor, the world's largest maker of ophthalmic lenses, said on Friday that 2013 like-for-like sales growth reached an estimated 2.1 percent, missing its expectations, amid fierce competition and a challenging economic climate, notably in Europe.
Essilor, which will report final 2013 figures on February 27, said sales reached a provisional 5.065 billion euros and that profitability would be higher than in 2012.
In the fourth quarter sales were hurt by "an unfavorable basis of comparison in the United States, the loss of a major contract in Europe and a difficult economic and regulatory environment in France," Essilor said in a statement.
Essilor's overall performance was also impacted by delays in completing several acquisitions, it said.
In October, Essilor had already lowered its 2013 revenue growth guidance to 6 percent from 7 percent to take into account delays in finalising certain acquisitions and a slower than expected recovery in North America. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Leigh Thomas)