CooperVision (CVI) expects to maintain good operating margins next year, although its gross margins will be reduced as distributors in France, Germany and Japan will generate a higher percentage of its total revenues. In the year ended last Oct. 31, this division, by far the biggest one within the Cooper Companies group, suffered a slight decline in its operating margin from 31 to 29 percent of revenues, which rose by 14 percent to $176.1 million. The group itself ended the past year with an improved net profit of $37,136,000 on higher total sales of $234,572,000.

In the 4th quarter, CVI's sales improved by 15 percent to $49.7 million, generating a 12 percent increase in operating income to $15.8 million. European sales rose by 26 percent in the quarter and by 32 percent for the full year. Sales of toric contact lenses increased by 14 percent in the quarter and by 13 percent for the year to represent about 45 percent of CVI's total revenues.

CVI estimates that its market share in the global $2.9 billion contact lens market has reached 6.3 percent, or about double the level of 1997, as its overall contact lens sales grew by 15 percent in dollars and 17 percent in constant currencies, or roughly 3 times the growth of the market.

CVI says it now has the capacity in place to meet anticipated world demand for disposable cosmetic lenses, which should generate sales of almost $20 million by the end of 2002 in a market estimated at about $150 million. In the latest quarter, CVI introduced in the USA a new high-performance monthly replacement multifocal lens for presbyopes, Frequency Multifocal, combining spherical and aspheric optics. A brand-new line of Frequency Enhancements ? tinted contact lenses that enhance instead of changing the eye's natural color ? will be introduced in the second half of 2002.