The world's leading manufacturer of eyewear frames more than doubled its earnings in the 3rd quarter ended Sept. 30, reflecting mainly the effects of Ray-Ban's quick integration into group operations and of a stronger integration of LensCrafters within the group's central management structure.

The group reported today a fantastic 110.7 percent increase in its operating profit in the quarter to 185 billion lire (e96m-$79m), representing an improvement in margins from 9.1 to 16.5 percent of sales. Net income surged by 117.5 percent to 113.3 billion lire (e58.5m-$48.5m) or 10.1 percent of sales, as compared to a 5.4 percent margin in the same period one year ago.

On the other hand, the group's sales increased in the quarter by only 16.2 percent to 1,124.3 billion (e580.9m-$481.6m), in spite of the positive effect of the dollar's increase of nearly 20 percent against the euro since one year ago. The 861-store LensCrafters chain in the USA reached a turnover of $340.1 million in the quarter, indicating a sales gain of 4.5 percent, or 4 percent on a comparable store basis.

The consolidation of Ray-Ban contributed to boost sales by 31.8 percent for the entire 9-month period ended Sept. 30. They reached 3,558.1 billion lire (e1,837,9m-$1,523.6m) in the period, generating a gross industrial margin of 71.6 percent, up from 71.3 percent in the year-ago period. The operating margin grew from 13.7 to 17.4 percent, and the net margin from 8 to 11.1 percent. The net profit for the entire period was up 83.1 percent year-on-year to 394.6 billion lire (e203.8m-$169m).

More in detail, wholesale operations raised their turnover by 46.5 percent in the latest 9-month period to 1,603.7 billion lire (e828.4m-$686.7m), improving their operating margin from 19.7 to 23.7 percent of sales. Retail operations, which are represented by LensCrafters, rose by 6.1 percent to $1,024.6 saleswise, and their operating profit grew by 25.5 percent to 14.7 percent of sales, as against 12.4 percent a year ago. The improving profitability and cash flow allowed Luxottica to reduce its debt by 400.6 billion lire to 1,789.3 billion lire (e924.2m-$766.2m) in the 9-month period.