Marcolin was the best performing stock on the main market of the Italian Bourse last year, with the share price rising by 192.5 percent to €4.37 at the end of December from the level it had reached a year earlier. The share price was supported by the group's turnaround and improved financial results as well as the signing of new license deals with Swarovski and Diesel. Financial analysts expect the company to report a doubling in Marcolin's profits on sales of €200 million for 2010 when it releases full-year results at the end of March.

In 2009, the company had booked sales of €180.3 million and an Ebitda of €15.1 million, indicating an Ebitda margin of 8.4 percent. Its net profit reached €7 million.

An influential Italian investment bank, Mediobanca, believes that the stock still has some upside because it continues to trade at a discount compared with its two peers on the Bourse, Safilo and Luxottica. It rates the stock as «outperform» with a target price of €5.13. Mediobanca expects Marcolin's sales to reach €253 million in 2012, with an Ebitda margin of nearly 16 percent. It forecasts that Marcolin will erase its net debt in 2011 and begin to generate positive cash flow in 2012.

The eyewear company is expected to continue seeking new licenses this year and to increase its presence in North America, Northern Europe and Asia. Marcolin's stock is currently trading around €4.26.

Safilo booked a 68.0 percent increase in its share price last year as investors regained confidence in the stock after its rescue by the Dutch group Hal. Luxottica was up 26.3 percent. Many analysts continue to be upbeat about the two stocks.

Analysts are generally bullish about Italian eyewear stocks. Citigroup recently increased its target price for Luxottica to €26.0 from €23.5 and confirmed the stock as a «buy». The stock was trading above €22.0, compared with an average target price of €23.7 based on estimates by financial analysts, when Citigroup released its opinion. This was before Luxottica's release of its preliminary results for 2010. The stock was still trading at €22.30 at market close yesterday.

For its part, Bank of America has raised its target price for Safilo to €16.5 from €14.0, repeating its former «buy» recommendation based on the belief that the share price does not reflect the stock's potential since the arrival of Hal. The stock is trading around €12.80 compared with an average target price of about €13.80. Safilo's share price is expected to be affected about any news regarding the possible renewal or loss of license deals with the Armani group. Safilo holds the licenses A/X Armani Exchange, Emporio Armani and Giorgio Armani, which all expire at the end of 2012.