The Cooper Companies and Ocular Sciences have received approval from their shareholders to go ahead with the planned merger of their operations, forming the world's third-largest contact lens company, provided the US government doesn't object on anti-trust grounds. Ocular's shareholders will receive 0.3879 of a share of Cooper's equity and $22.00 in cash for each share of Ocular they own.

In the 3rd quarter ended Oct. 30, Ocular posted a slightly improved net profit of $9,566,000 as sales increased by 6 percent from a year ago to $87.7 million, but excluding restructuring charges and the costs associated with the merger, net income would have increased by 17 percent to $14.2 million. On the same basis, net income for the first nine months of the financial year would have risen by 26 percent to $34.5 million on sales of $251.6 million.

In terms of local currencies, sales were up by 4 percent during the 9-month period and by 2 percent in the latest quarter. The quarterly gross margin improved sharply to 59.6 percent from 54.2 percent in the year-ago period, but Ocular spent more than usual on R&D, marketing and selling. Before restructuring charges and merger costs, the operating margin grew to 20.8 percent from 17.3 percent.