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ZURICH, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Swiss chemicals maker Sika on Thursday reported organic sales growth of 3.3% for 2019 following a slowdown in the final quarter, sending its shares down around 3% in early trading.
The firm, which makes additives for cement and adhesives for the automotive sectors, said however that local-currency sales still hit a record last year, up 16.3% to 8.11 billion Swiss francs ($8.33 billion), boosted by several acquisitions.
Sika expects to post double-digit growth in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) when it releases full 2019 results on Feb. 21, it added.
"The main negative deviations came from Asia/Pacific which came in 9% below our fourth-quarter expectations," Baader Helvea analyst Markus Mayer said in a note.
Mayer said he expected Sika to again outperform most of its chemical peers this year, but given its already high valuation, investors were likely to take profits on Thursday and further rerating was possible.
Shares were down 2.9% at 0807 GMT, lagging a 0.8% rise in the Swiss blue-chip index SMI.
The company said it was aiming to lift its EBIT margin to 15% to 18% by 2021.
Last year, the company unveiled a new strategy to increase its sales by 6% to 8% a year based on the expanding market for construction chemicals.
In 2019, Sika made five acquisitions, including a $2.5 billion deal to buy French mortar manufacturer Parex, and expanded its production in seven countries including Ethiopia, Indonesia and Serbia.
"By investing in seven new factories and five acquisitions, the group has laid the foundations for continued growth," the company said in a statement. ($1 = 0.9739 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Rebekah Mathew in Bengaluru and Silke Koltrowitz and John Revill in Zurich; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Shailesh Kuber and Jan Harvey)