Vision-Ease has filed a suit in a Minneapolis court, requesting an injunction against Younger Optics. The lawsuit claims that Younger's polarized polycarbonate lenses, partly sold under the NuPolar label, infringe on Vision-Ease's patents for the molding of thermoplastic materials with a film or a layer. Stating that the claim is without merit, Younger has countersued, asking judicial authorities to declare that the Vision-Ease patent is invalid and that it has not been violated in the case.
The parent company of Vision-Ease, BMC Industries, has reported a 20 percent drop in overall revenues to $68.6 million for the 1st quarter ended March 31, due in part to a planned exit from the computer monitor mask business, generating a net loss of $54.9 million against net income of $2 million in the same period a year ago. Charges of about $2.8 million related to the shutdown of Vision-Ease's manufacturing facility in California were offset by a gain of about $3.5 million from the sale of its Optifacts software division. Debt was reduced by $13 million. A return to profitability is expected in the 4th quarter.
The company's optical products group suffered an operating loss of $2.5 million in the 1st quarter, but it would have posted an operating profit of $0.3 million excluding special charges, as compared to $2.3 million in the year-ago period. Revenues declined by 4 percent at Vision-Ease, but sales were up in every category except for declines of 24 percent in low-margin plastic lenses and 66 percent for the SunSport business, a segment in which the company is re-evaluating its strategy.
The company's global polycarbonate sales were up 9 percent, and the consolidation of production in Indonesia and Minnesota should lower costs. Its laboratories in the USA and Europe recorded ?dramatic? sales increases. Sales of SunRx prescription polarized lenses grew by 31 percent. Sales of Tegra-coated and photochromic polycarbonate lenses were up 24 and 9 percent, respectively, and the company experienced strong demand for its own mirror-coated polycarbonate lenses, which were introduced at Vision Expo East in March.
Paul Burke is retiring as chairman and CEO of BMC Industries, but he will stay on as a consultant until the end of 2002. He is being replaced by Douglas Hopper, a 28-year-old executive who has been running PPG Industries' global automotive after-market paint business.