Hoya Corp. reached a 19.5 percent operating margin (EBIT) in the vision care segment during the year ended March 31, up from 18.0 percent in the previous financial year, as sales grew by 10.0 percent to 104.5 billion yen (€730m-$923m). The Japanese company reached this score in spite of considerable increases in R&D expenses in this sector, which grew to 2.57 billion yen (€18.0m-$22.7m), and in personnel, which rose to 6,794 employees.

In contrast with a previous pattern, the health care segment, which comprises contact lenses and intraocular devices, experienced a decline in operating margin from 22.7 to 19.3 percent in the past year, while sales went up by 13.0 percent to 35.5 billion yen (€248.1m-$313.6m).

As a group, Hoya reported an improved operating margin of 29.4 percent on 11.7 percent higher total consolidated sales of 344.2 billion yen (€2,405m-$3,040m) for the year. The net profit grew by 17.9 percent to 75.62 billion yen (€528.4m-$668.0m).

The increased vision care revenues were exclusively due to further gains outside Japan, and they were aided by a strengthening yen. Foreign sales of vision care products rose by 17.1 percent to 68.4 billion yen (€478.0m-$604.2m). Sales in Japan instead declined by 1.4 percent to 36.1 billion yen (€252.3m-$318.9m). In the health care segment, the Japanese market continued to represent the bulk of total sales, or 96.5 percent.

For the 4th quarter of the latest financial year, Hoya reported an improved operating profit of 18.7 percent in the vision care segment, up from 17.2 percent in the year-ago period, on 13.7 percent higher sales of 27.8 billion yen (€194.2m-$245.6m). Vision care revenues declined by 3.7 percent in Japan but jumped by 23.8 percent overseas. Health care revenues rose by 14.5 percent but the operating margin fell to 7.6 percent from 20.6 percent.

Like before, Hoya said its vision care business benefited from the introduction of new high-end products, offsetting in part the impact of intense price competition in the lower segment of the Japanese ophthalmic lens market. Shaking off competition at the low end of the contact lens market was a challenge for the company, but the establishment of additional retail operations and increased sales of high-end products helped Hoya to increase contact lens sales.