Luxottica beat market expectations by reporting a 12.1 percent increase in fourth-quarter sales to €1,509 million ina preliminary statement yesterday. On a similar currency basis, turnover rose by 11.2 percent. Revenues were driven by the group's operations in North America and emerging markets. Market expectations were for quarterly sales to reach slightly more than €1.4 billion.

In the crucial North American market, overall sales in U.S. dollars rose by more than 9 percent as consumer confidence remained high in the U.S..

Luxottica's wholesale division raised its global sales by 8.3 percent to €556.2 million. At constant currency rates, they rose by 8.7 percent and were higher in all geographies, especially in North America, China, India, the Middle East, Brazil and Eastern Europe. Western European sales were underpinned by growth in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The group's house brands Ray-Ban and Oakley continued to register strong performance.

Luxottica said the start of 2012 looks promising on the back of current order levels and the positive reception of the company's new Coach eyewear collection, launched in January.

Wholesale revenues rose by 3.0 percent at constant currency rates in Western Europe, by 17.0 percent in North America, by 14.0 percent in emerging markets and by 3.0 percent in the rest of the world. Western Europe represented 38.0 percent of wholesale revenues, North America 24.0 percent, emerging markets 26.0 percent and the rest of the world 12.0 percent.

The retail division boosted its quarterly revenues by 14.4 percent to €952.9 million thanks to record sales during the year-end holiday period at LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut. In North America, comparable sales of optical eyewear rose by 4.8 percent at LensCrafters and increased by 0.9 percent at Pearle Vision.

Combined comparable store sales were down by 2.5 percent at Sears and Target, despite a 20.3 percent surge at Target. Sunglass Hut bolstered same-store sales by 10.8 percent globally and by 12.1 percent in the U.S.

Same-store sales of optical eyewear rose by 9.9 percent in Australia and New Zealand, lifted by a 10.2 percent rise at OPSM. The group's retail activities in China, South Africa and the Middle East all enjoyed positive growth rates. Overall, Luxottica's same-store sales rose by 6.5 percent around the world in the fourth quarter.

The good fourth-quarter sales results bloated the revenues for the full year by 9.9 percent to a record level of €6,222 million. At constant exchange rates, turnover went up by 7.3 percent.

Luxottica's chief executive, Andrea Guerra, said the group has laid the foundation for lasting growth and believes that the company “will yield even further growth” in 2012.

The company will release a complete set of full-year results on Feb. 28. Financial analysts expect Luxottica's sales to approach €6.6 billion this year and reported net profits to break the €520 million mark.