The growth of the global soft contact lens market reached 6 percent in terms of local currencies during the 12 months ended June 30, according to the Contact Lens Institute, but it slowed down to 3 percent year-on-year during the second calendar quarter of this year. CooperVision (CVI) continued to gain market share as its total sales went up by 10 percent for the 12 months and 5 percent for the quarter.

CVI performed particularly well in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, where its sales grew by 11 percent during the 12-month period and by 9 percent for the quarter, against increases of 4 percent and 3 percent for the overall market, respectively. The U.S. company did well also in Asia-Pacific, rising by 14 percent and by 1 percent in the two respective periods, while the market grew by 7 percent for the year and fell by 3 percent in the quarter.

CVI has been losing market share lately in the Americas, but company officials hope to catch up with the introduction in the U.S. of the Clariti line of silicon hydrogel one-day lenses developed by Sauflon Pharmaceuticals, the British contact lens specialist acquired by the group with effect from Aug. 6.

Total sales of soft contact lenses increased in the Americas by 6 percent in the 12 months through June and by 7 percent in the latest quarter. CVI's sales in the region increased by 7 percent during the 12 months, but only 3 percent during the quarter.

CVI's parent, Cooper Companies, reported increases of 5 percent in dollars and constant currencies for the third quarter of its financial year, ended July 31. They reached $432.5 million and led the group to post a slightly reduced net income of $88,067,000.

The gross margin of the group remained at 65 percent. The operating margin declined to 22 percent from 23 percent in the year-ago period, but it would have risen to 24 without acquisition-related costs.

CVI raised its own revenues by 6 percent to $349.9 million. A similar increase was recorded in terms of local currencies, with gains of 9 percent for toric lenses, 4 percent for single-use spheres and 15 percent for multifocals. Sales of silicon hydrogel lenses jumped by 20 percent and came to represent 50 percent of the total turnover. With a 25 percent share of total sales, the Proclear line grew by only 2 percent.

In commenting on the results, the management of Cooper Companies gave analysts an interesting insight into the group's development and its future plans with the integration of Sauflon. We plan to discuss this in the next issue of EWI.