CIBA Vision improved its operating income by 219 percent in the 4th quarter of 2004 to $51 million, representing 14.1 percent of sales, allowing this division of the Swiss-based Novartis group to raise its Ebit for the whole year by 54 percent to $236 million, or 16.7 percent of sales, up from 11.7 percent in 2003. However, in the 4th quarter CIBA Vision's sales increased by only 4 percent to $362 million, and they were flat in local currencies. For the full year, they rose by 8 percent in dollars to $1,412 million, but they were up by only 2 percent on a currency-neutral basis, with increases of 4 percent in the USA and 1 percent in the rest of the world. US sales represented 35 percent of the total turnover.
CIBA Vision's parent, Novartis, scored much better overall, thanks to strong gains in pharmaceuticals and consumer health. Group sales moved up by 14 percent to $28.25 billion, including a 9 percent increase in local currencies. Operating margins declined slightly from 23.7 to 23.1 percent of sales, partly due to a 32 percent increase in total R&D expenses, but the net profit margin increased from 20.2 to 20.4 percent.