* Q3 sales rise 18 pct to 1.23 bln eur
* Essilor has completed five acquisitions in October (Adds detail, background)
PARIS, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Essilor International, the world’s largest maker of corrective lenses, stuck to its full-year forecasts on Thursday after it posted an 18 percent rise in third-quarter sales, driven by the Asia-Pacific region and North America.
Sales reached 1.23 billion euros ($1.6 billion) in the quarter, Essilor said in a statement, in line with the average estimate in a Reuters poll. The like-for-like gain of 4 percent compared with the poll average of 4.58 percent.
“Demand remains brisk in North America,” Essilor said, with U.S. sales to independent eyecare professionals driven by anti-reflective lenses.
“Growth was firm in Europe, with the exception of selected markets in Southern Europe, notably Italy and Portugal, and the Instruments division.”
In the Asia-Pacific and Africa region, fast-growing markets led by China and India “maintained their strong expansion”, Essilor added.
Essilor confirmed its full-year target for 12-15 percent growth in revenue before currency effects and for “sustained high profitability excluding strategic acquisitions”.
Essilor’s product range spans from reading glasses that sell in India for the equivalent of a few euros to high-performance lenses costing hundreds of euros.
The group is pursuing bolt-on acquisitions, and completed three transactions in the third quarter, with a further five since the start of October.
Still, cash flow generation enabled the group to reduce net debt by nearly 200 million euros in the quarter to 414 million, Essilor added. ($1 = 0.7711 euros) (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Christian Plumb)