Higher than expected sales increases, higher income from Transitions and growing profitability in the USA all contributed to lift Essilor International's operating income by 14.2 percent to e176.9 million in the 1st half of 2002, representing a record margin of 15.8 percent which compares with 14.8 percent in the year-ago period. Moderate capital investments, a 10 percent reduction in debt to e292 million and an e8.2 million gain from a capital increase in Bacou-Dalloz last May helped push up net income by 44.1 percent to e99.7 million.

Essilor's revenues rose by 7.3 percent on a comparable basis in the 6-month period, instead of the 7 percent growth estimated last July 18, reaching e1,116.5 million. In absolute terms, sales were up 6.7 percent. While the euro's appreciation resulted in a negative 1.9 percent currency effect, the June 2001 acquisition of Dollond & Aitchison's laboratory in the UK and other changes boosted sales by 1.4 percent.

Sales grew in all regions. On a comparable basis, they rose by 6.6 percent in Europe, 7.5 percent in North America and 9.2 percent in the rest of the world. Transitions Next Generation, high-index and polycarbonate lenses grew the most. Essilor Instruments booked a 13 percent sales increase.

Meanwhile, Essilor has bought 3 US lens laboratories from CSC Group, a longtime distributor of Essilor's Varilux and Crizal brands. Employing 65 people and generating annual revenues of about $7 million, they are located in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona and in Denver, Colorado.