The final score will largely depend on the extent of the sales decline in Germany during the 4th quarter, which was very strong there a year ago on the eve of the health reform. In the 3rd quarter ended last Sept. 30, Essilor International's sales in Germany were down by 25 percent year-on-year, and the rate of decline will likely be higher during the current 3-month period. The company's sales growth in France declined to just over 3 percent during the latest quarter, as compared to an 8.8 percent jump a year ago.

Essilor's total European sales increased by 0.9 percent on a comparative basis in the 3rd quarter, and they were up 4.5 percent excluding Germany. For the full 9-month period ended Sept. 30, they showed an overall 4 percent increase including Germany and a 6.5 percent increase without it, indicating a general slowdown in the European market. Including acquisitions, total European sales rose by 9.8 percent to €754.0 million. Essilor had a turnover of about €100 million in Germany during the first 9 months of this year, of which about one-third were represented by Rupp + Hubrach.

The group's total sales increased by 8.7 percent to €1,702.2 million in the first 9 months of this year. On an organic basis, they were up 7.1 percent, down from the 7.8 percent growth recorded in the first 6 months. Acquisitions added 5.3 percentage points to the overall growth in the 9 months, but the weaker dollar and other currency movements took 3.7 percent points away.

The other regions of the world progressed faster. In North America, an 8.3 percent increase in local currencies in the 3rd quarter contributed to an 8.7 percent gain for the 9 months, with a 6.1 percent increase in euros to €702.4 million after a relatively weak second quarter. Still in local currencies, the Asia-Pacific region sported a nice 15.4 percent sales increase for the 9 months, with gains in the 3rd quarter of about 10 percent in Australia and New Zealand, 13 percent in Japan and about 30 percent in China and India. Latin America grew by 15.5 percent during the 9-month period.

In terms of volume, group sales grew by about 4 percent in the 3rd quarter, like in the previous 6 months. The growth in value was driven by Transitions, whose sales rose by over 15 percent, and by other value-added products such as progressive, polycarbonate and high-index lenses as well as anti-reflective coatings, whose sales were by in the double digits.

Profit margins will be announced later. The management says they will probably be at the higher end of the analysts' consensus for the year as a whole. Total revenues should be up by between 9 and 10 percent, with between 4 and 5 percentage points due to acquisitions.