The Carl Zeiss group reports another decline in its Vision Care segment for the financial year ended Sept. 30. Sales were off by 9 percent to €761 million, or 6 percent in constant currencies, but the group's management pointed out that it achieved another clear improvement in profitability by focusing strongly on branded products.

There was also a 3 percent decline in Consumer Optics, down to €185 million, due to a challenging business in the U.S. All the other business units of the German group posted higher sales, led by a 12 percent increase in Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology to €1,047 million. Overall, the group's revenues went up by 2 percent to €4,287 million, and they would have risen by 5 percent if currency exchange rates had remained the same.

Across the group, sales remained basically flat in Germany at €514 million. In terms of local currencies, they rose by 2 percent in the whole Europe, Middle East and Africa area. They went up by 10 percent in the Asia-Pacific region but fell by 5 percent in the Americas. Direct sales in emerging markets increased by 3 percent to €726 million, up by 7 percent in constant currencies.

The consolidated net earnings of the group increased by €15 million to €190 million for the year. Operating profit (Ebit) improved by €45 million to €360 million, and it would have gone up by €75 million if there had been no changes in currencies. This occurred in spite of an 8 percent increase to €448 million in spending on research & development. With capital expenditures down to €188 million, free cash flow increased to €275 million.

For the current financial year, the management predicts a stable overall development in sales, with regional variations, and a stable operating margin. Incoming orders are up by 4 percent in terms of euros, or 7 percent on a currency-neutral basis