Carl Zeiss has reported a turnover of €1,007 million in the combined Vision Care and Consumer Optics segments for the financial year ended Sept. 30, adding that it grew by 7 percent from €946 million in the prior year. It also said that the business unit made a considerable contribution to the group's added value by raising its profitability.

During the 2013/14 financial year, the Vision Care segment of the group had recorded a drop of 9 percent to €761 million, down by 6 percent in local currencies, but its profitability improved. However, at that time, it did not bundle its results with those of the Consumer Optics segment, which includes camera lenses, binoculars and other such items.

For the 2014/15 financial year, Zeiss said that Vision Care grew in all the regions, thanks to higher sales of branded lenses and product innovations. It noted a satisfactory development of the business in Consumer Optics, considering the difficult market situation in the sector. The situation in the area of camera lenses is described as challenging.

Looking at the outlook for the current financial year, Zeiss' management spoke of a potential for higher sales in Vision Care, thanks to a well-filled pipeline of new products. It was probably referring in part to DriveSafe, a new lens for everyday use whose coating reduces the effect of headlight glare. Available in single vision and progressive designs, it became available in several markets this month.

Revenues and earnings went up for the Zeiss group as a whole in the past financial year. Total revenues rose by 5 percent to €4,511 million, despite a drop of 15 percent in Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology. Microscopy, too, performed below expectations.

Geographically, the group's revenues jumped by 18 percent to €883 million in emerging markets. They grew by 6 percent on a comparable basis to €953 million in the whole Asia-Pacific region, rising from €303 million to €390 million in China alone. They increased by 6 percent also in the Europe, Asia and Middle East region, reaching €1,552 million, but they went up by only 2 percent to €1,215 million in the Americas. About 88 percent of the German company's turnover is generated outside its home country.

At €369 million, the group's operating profit (Ebit) was slightly ahead of the previous year's level of €360 million, representing an operating margin of 8 percent after adjustments for currency and other special effects. The net income improved by €18 million to €208 million.

The company's investments in research & development increased last year by 4 percent to €466 million, close to 10 percent of the total turnover. The number of employees grew by one percent to 24,946.

The management is projecting further increases in sales and operating margins for this year in spite of the economic slowdown in emerging markets and continued stagnation in the semiconductor market. Incoming orders were up by 9 percent by the end of September.

Free cash flow surged to €477 million from €275 million in the past year. With its equity ratio at 25 percent, the company says that its solid financial situation is giving it room for possible acquisitions.