Rodenstock reports for last year a net profit of only 5 million DM (e2.5m-$2m), down sharply from 19 million DM earned in 1999. The operating income remained practically stable at 51 million DM (e26m-$22m), as compared to 52 million DM, but higher amortization charges and a variety of extraordinary expenditures depressed the bottom line. The group also suffered from the softening market in Germany and the USA

The German group continued the 3-year-old process of concentrating on its core business of spectacles. The process should be largely complete this year. Rodenstock's capital expenditures will be greatly reduced in 2001, but in 2000 they reached a high of 118 million DM (e60m-$52m), of which only 35 million DM (e18m-$15m) were spent in Germany. Among other things, the company expanded its laboratories in Frankurt, the UK and the Czech Republic, and it launched its own direct lens casting operation in the USA.

The launch of new and complex production technologies and products, such its new Individual Lens Technology, generated unplanned costs, but the company says the processes have now been stabilized. A subsidiary in the area of light technology and lighting techniques for the automotive industry, Docter Optics, recorded losses in the millions of DM, but it has since dropped its unprofitable activities.

Total group sales fell to 958 million DM (e490m-$419m) in 2000 from 979 million DM in the previous year, largely because of the disposal of non-core activities. Sales in the core business of spectacles, which now represent 78 percent of the total turnover, rose by 3 percent, in line with market trends. Lenses represented 62 percent of revenues, and frames 16 percent. The German market accounted for 47.6 percent of the total turnover, and the rest of Europe about 35 percent.

Rodenstock expects greatly improved margins this year. On a comparable basis, the group's sales of lenses and frames increased slightly in the first 4 months of this year, despite a further weakening of the German market in terms of volume.

New ranges of frames should contribute to the sales increase this year. Further sales growth is expected from the establishment of new sales operations in several countries. Last year, Rodenstock expanded its sales activities in the Czech Republic and set up its own sales subsidiary in Poland.

It also regrouped all its operations in the USA, Canada and Mexico into a single company, Rodenstock North America, in which it has a 51 percent controlling stake. John Protocny, the former vice president and general manager of the US company's frames division, has become president in charge of all its sales and marketing operations.