Higher sales of progressive and high-index lenses in Europe and certain parts of Asia contributed to an 18.3 percent increase in foreign sales for Hoya's vision care division in the financial year ended last March 31, but the company has not yet decided whether it will launch in Europe the new light and sturdy Trivex material developed by PPG Industries for lenses, as it has done in the USA, apparently with great success.

Steady increases in Hoya's US lab business also played a role in pushing foreign sales up to 57.4 percent of the vision care division's turnover. Domestic sales were down slightly, due in part to increased discounting at the retail level. The group's total vision care sales rose by 9.6 percent to 93,212million yen (e807m-$731m) in the 12-month period, yielding an operating margin of 15.5 percent, up from the 12.3 percent margin of the previous year.

In the health care segment of Hoya's business, which generated an improved operating margin of 14.3 percent sales on sales 23,105 million yen (e200m-$181m) in the year, Hoya raised its sales of contact lenses thanks to strong promotion of bifocal lenses and special products for astigmatics as well as its own E-System of lens compensation. Sales of intraocular lenses were up, while sales of hearing aids were down.

Hoya's total revenues declined by 0.6 percent to 235,265 million yen (e2,037m-$1845m) in the last financial year, mainly because of a 9.7 percent fall in electro-optics revenues. The group's operating income dropped by 2.7 percent to a still commendable overall margin of 18.7 percent, but its net income improved by 8.6 percent to 23,740 million yen (e 206m-$186m).

Net margins improved strongly in the 4th quarter, despite a 1.3 percent overall sales decline, but foreign sales improved, thanks in part to a weaker yen. In the quarter, the vision care segment reached a very high 17.9 percent operating margin on sales of 22,822 million yen (e198m-$179m). Vision care sales rose by 7.1 percent in the period, as compared to the same quarter a year ago, with overseas sales up 17.2 percent, building up to a 62.3 percent export ratio.