CooperVision claims that it continued to grow faster than the overall soft-contact lens market in the fourth quarter of 2016, with sales rising by 10 percent in a market that grew by 6 percent to an estimated global level of $1,830 million, according to the Contact Lens Institute. The actual growth of the market was probably higher on a comparable basis, as Johnson & Johnson and Alcon have reported sales increases of 10 percent and 7 percent in the quarter, respectively.

In the last three months of 2016, CVI's sales went up by 12 percent in the Americas, where the market grew by only 5 percent, and by 12 percent in the Asia-Pacific region, where CVI's market share is the lowest, compared with an 8 percent increase in the market. CVI's sales rose by 5 percent in Europe, the Middle East and Asia (EMEA), in line with the market, due in part to disruption caused by the integration of distribution centers.

According to the company, its global market share has been rising steadily in recent years, going from 17.8 percent in 2011/12 to 23.0 percent in 2015/16. It estimates that J&J continued to lead the market last year with a market share of 40 percent, followed by Alcon with 24 percent. The share of Bausch & Lomb is estimated at 9 percent.

For the first quarter of its financial year, which ended Jan. 31, the parent company of CVI, Cooper Companies, reported an overall increase in consolidated revenues of 11 percent to $499.1 million, with growth of 8 percent pro forma and in constant currencies. At CVI, quarterly sales were up by 7 percent to $389.3 million, but they increased by 9 percent in local currencies, with rises of 7 percent in the Americas and EMEA, and 16 percent in Asia-Pacific.

Toric lenses grew the most during the quarter, rising by 14 percent on a currency-neutral basis and reaching a level of $120.7 million. While multifocal lenses increased by 7 percent, building up to a level of $99.5 million, single-use spheres rose by 12 percent. Silicon hydrogel products enjoyed an overall sales increase of 20 percent and came to represent 63 percent of CVI's total quarterly revenues.

CVI's ongoing market share increases were driven by double-digit increases in all regions for its expanding Biofinity line and by a 49 percent jump in sales of daily silicon hydrogel products. The company's Clariti line of torics and multifocals is leading the way in the daily disposable space. MayDay is also enjoying strong growth, with a toric product being introduced in Europe after a successful launch in Japan.

The resulting better product-mix led to an increase in CVI's gross margin in the latest quarter to 63.1 percent from 60.9 percent in the same quarter a year ago. This helped the whole Cooper group to book an improved gross margin of 63 percent as well as a much better operating margin of 22.8 percent excluding extraordinary items and in spite of higher sales and marketing expenses. In particular, the sales force is now 10 percent higher than a year ago.

The group's net earnings went up to $75.8 million in the quarter from $51.4 million in the year-ago period.

The management predicts that CVI will reach revenues of between $1,620 million and $1,650 million for the full financial year through next January, growing at a rate of between 6 and 8 percent before currency conversions. The group's net earnings should continue to go up despite a likely increase interest expenses and a foreign exchange loss.