Third-quarter revenues for the optical retail division of Hal Holding grew by 1.4 percent to €510 million on a 1.8 percent drop in comparable store sales in constant currencies. Operating results also declined, by 4.2 percent to €69 million.

For the first nine months of the year, comparable store sales fell by 1.7 percent at the group's optical retail stores. Thanks to acquisitions and the opening of new stores, their total sales rose by 2.6 percent to €1,512 million. Changes in currency exchange rates reduced their revenues by €53 million, offsetting a net gain of €51 million from acquisitions. Operating results dropped by 9.0 percent to €192 million.

The net asset value of Hal's investments rose by €936 million in the first nine months of 2009, with a €499 million increase in the third quarter alone, thanks primarily to the increase in the share price of publicly quoted associate companies. The group's net asset value rose to €4,152 million as of last Sept. 30, equal to €65.31 per share, but this doesn't include the positive difference between the estimated value and the book value of unquoted investments, which is expected to decline from last year because of their lower operating results.

To maintain sufficient financial flexibility for possible acquisitions (such as that of Safilo) and other purposes, Hal is proposing to distribute dividends over the next few years in the form of shares, unless a shareholder requests payment in cash.