Marcolin Group is forecasting a 33.8 percent increase in turnover for this year to 160 million euros, thanks in part to new licenses and to last February's acquisition of Creative Optics, the American wholesaler, for $13 million. Earnings may not follow the same curve, at least for this year, judging from the results of the first half of 2001.

The Italian eyewear group has in fact completely integrated now Cébé, the French firm it acquired two years ago, but it's still waiting to get the full benefits from the integration of Creative Optics, which has been carried out at the administrative, commercial and logistical levels in a record period of only 5 months.

Group revenues increased by 27.6 percent to e83.42 million in the 6 months ended last June 30, but excluding Creative Optics, which has been consolidated from Jan. 1, they were only up by 1.7 percent to e66.48 million. Creative Optics contributed sales of e16.7 million in the period. Sales in Italy rose by 17.4 percent, however, and the French market fared well.

Marcolin's net profit improved by only 0.6 percent to e5.5 million in the 6-month period, so the net profit margin actually declined from 8.2 to 6.7 percent. In fact, the transfer of the Marcolin USA's headquarters from New Jersey to Scottsdale, Arizona and other reorganization measures caused extraordinary charges of about e1.5 million that weighed down on the net income. Net finance charges increased as well.

Even before these charges, the gross margin declined to 13.1 percent from 13.4 percent in the year-ago period, notwithstanding improvements in purchasing and in the productivity of the manufacturing process. The operating margin was down more modestly to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent.

On the French market, a bad winter sports season penalized Cébé, whose sales dropped by 8.8 percent to 61.35 million French francs (e9.35m-$8.54m). But the synergies provided by the French sports eyewear firm allowed Marcolin's French subsidiary to raise sales of its own brands by 43 percent, which resulted in a doubling of the operating profit.

In spite of heavy investments, the group succeeded in lowering its debt to 28.4 million euros, standing against net assets of 73.2 million euros.