Alcon reported a 2 percent year-on-year increase in total revenues to $1,925 million for the fourth quarter of its 2020 financial year, marking a return to positive growth figures after two consecutive negative quarters. In constant currencies, total sales increased by 1 percent.

Sales in the vision care business unit, which includes contact lenses and eyecare products, grew by 3 percent to $797 million as compared to the same quarter last year, or by 1 percent on a neutral-currency basis. However, while contact lenses sales increased by 5 percent in constant currencies to $490 million, eyecare product revenues declined by 3 percent to $307 million in the quarter.

The company said that the good quarterly performance in contact lenses was driven by solid sales of reusable products, particularly for its newest silicon hydrogel Precision 1 lenses. As for the eyecare range, declines in sales of artificial tears and contact lens care products were only partially offset by the ongoing launch of Pataday, an allergy relief product.

The Q4 recovery contributed to limit the full year decline in vision care revenues after they had been severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in Q2 when the division sales had dropped by 27 percent. For the last 12 months, overall vision care revenues declined from $3,188 million to $3,053 million, a 4 percent decrease both in reported terms and constant currencies, with contact lenses’ sales down by 7 percent to $1,838 million and eyecare products’ flat at $1,215 million.

Including revenues from the surgical division that fell by 11 percent year-on-year, the group posted total sales of $6,763 million for the full financial year, representing an 8 percent drop. By region, the share of the U.S. in the group’s revenues increased from 41 percent to 44 percent as the sales’ decline was limited to 2.6 percent in the country while international revenues plunged by 12.1 percent.

Adjusted for exceptional items such as the amortization of intangible assets or separation costs, Alcon reported an operating income of $789 million, reflecting a 5.5 percentage points reduction in operating margin to 11.7 percent. Alcon did not provide a financial outlook for the current fiscal year but David Endicott, its CEO, declared that the company would keep launching new products in 2021 that will help raise revenues and market share.