The U.S. was the only market where CooperVision lost market share in the last three months of 2015, due to Johnson & Johnson's aggressive roll-out of its Oasis range of one-day silicon hydrogel contact lenses. While the total soft contact lens market rose by 4 percent in the Americas during the period, reaching a level of $735 million, CVI's sales in the market increased by only one percent.

The global soft contact lens market improved by 4 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, building up to a total quarterly turnover of $1,795 million. In Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) as well as the Asia-Pacific region, the market rose by 5 percent to a practically equal level of $530 million, but CVI's growth in these two territories reached 9 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

The competition from J&J in the world's largest market led CVI to book a decline of one percent to $364.3 million in its total revenues for the first quarter of its financial year, ended last Jan. 31. The increased value of the U.S. dollar was part of the problem: In fact, its sales went up by 4 percent on a constant-currency basis, with a 4 percent increase in toric lenses and flat revenues from multi-focal lenses. They were down by 3 percent in local currencies in the Americas.

Market disruption caused by the integration of Sauflon in Europe didn't prevent CVI from posting an 8 percent sales increase in the region, thanks especially to the wide variety of its silicon hydrogel offerings. Together, silicon hydrogel lenses registered a combined 13 percent sales increase on a global basis, despite a 4 percent decline for Proclear lenses. They represented 72 percent of CVI's total sales, compared with global market penetration of 77 percent for this type of contact lenses.

The competitive environment also contributed to a drop in CVI's gross margin to 57 percent from 62 percent in the year-ago period. Other factors were manufacturing issues and the integration of Sauflon, which is now almost completed. Gross margins are expected to rebound from the second quarter onward.

Positioned in two different market segments, CVI's two one-day silicon hydrogel products, Clariti and MyDay, grew by 50 percent in constant currencies during the latest quarter. The company expects to maintain or exceed this growth rate for the balance of the year.

The management admitted that CVI was somewhat capacity-constrained in its deliveries of MyDay lenses, but assured investors that this will no longer be the case within the next year, in spite of the gradual launch of the product in Japan, which began this month.

The management confirmed its projection of a currency-neutral increase of between 5 and 7 percent for CVI during the full financial year. It improved its guidance for CVI's parent, Cooper Companies, following improved results for its Cooper Surgical operations.

As a group, Cooper Companies raised its total revenues by one percent to $449.6 million in the latest quarter, but lower gross margins led to a decline in net income to $51.3 million from $61.2 million a year ago.