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Essilor International SA (EFQ5.PA) 2006 Financial Results

3/8/2007 12:16:57 PM

CHARENTON-LE-PONT, France, March 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Board of Directors of Essilor International, the world leader in ophthalmic optical products, today announced its audited financial results for the year ended December 31, 2006.

EUR millions 2006 2005 Change Revenue 2,690.0 2,424.3 + 11.0% % change like-for-like + 8.1% Contribution from operations1 481.9 420.4 + 14.6% As a % of revenue 17.9% 17.3% --- Operating profit 459.8 393.6 + 16.8% Profit attributable to equity 328.3 287.1 + 14.3% holders 12.2% 11.8% --- As a % of revenue Earnings per share (in EUR) 3.21 2.82 + 14.1%

(1) Operating profit before share-based payments, restructuring costs and other non-recurring items, and goodwill impairment.

Essilor turned in an excellent sales and earnings performance in 2006 in a generally favorable environment for the ophthalmic optical industry.

The year's highlights included:

- The outstanding success of new products, led by the Varilux Physio(TM) progressive lens.

- Improvements in the product mix, attributable to product innovations across all market segments.

- Sustained growth worldwide, particularly in Europe and the United States which are the Company's two main markets.

- Ongoing external growth, with the acquisition during the year of 22 new companies.

- Further profitability gains, with contribution from operations rising to 17.9% of revenue and profit attributable to equity holders reaching 12.2%.

The Board of Directors will ask shareholders to approve a dividend of EUR1.10 per share, an increase of 17% over 2005. The dividend will be paid from May 15, 2007.

The Annual Shareholders' Meeting will be held on second call on Friday, May 11, 2007 at 10:30 a.m. at Palais de la Bourse, Place de la Bourse, 75002 Paris, France.


A meeting with financial analysts will be held today, March 8, at 10:30 a.m. and webcast live at the following address:

--------------------- Next financial announcement First-quarter 2007 revenue: April 18, 2007 -----------------------

Essilor International is the world leader in ophthalmic optical products, offering a wide range of lenses under the flagship Varilux(R), Crizal(R), Airwear(R) and Essilor(R) brands to correct myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia and astigmatism. Essilor operates worldwide through 16 production sites, 244 lens finishing laboratories and local distribution networks.

The Essilor share trades on the Euronext Paris market and is included in the CAC 40 index.

Codes and symbols: ISIN: FR 0000121667; Reuters: ESSI.PA; Bloomberg: EF FP. ------------------------

Investor Relations and Financial Communications Veronique Gillet Phone: +33-(0)-1-49-77-42-16 ANALYSIS OF THE YEAR'S RESULTS CONSOLIDATED REVENUE Revenue growth in Reported Like-for-like Effect of Currency 2006 changes in effect scope of consolidation In millions of 265.6 196.3 77.6 - 8.3 euros In % + 11% + 8.1% + 3.2% - 0.3% Consolidated revenue increased 11% in 2006 to EUR2,690 million.

- On a like-for-like basis, revenue grew 8.1%, significantly outstripping the trend rate of 5 to 6%.

- Companies acquired in 2005 and 2006 contributed 3.3% of growth.

- The currency effect (-0.3%) was positive in the early part of the year but became negative with the fall in the US and Canadian dollars and the Japanese yen against the euro.

Revenue 2006 2005 % change % change (reported) (like-for-like) in EUR millions Europe 1,207.8 1,120.4 + 7.8% + 6.6% North America 1,156.7 1,025.1 + 12.8% + 9.4% Asia-Pacific 233.0 202.1 + 15.3% + 8.7% Latin America 92.4 76.7 + 20.4% + 10.4% CONSOLIDATED INCOME STATEMENT Gross Profit

Gross margin (revenue less cost of sales, as a percentage of revenue) widened by 0.9 points to 58.2% in 2006 from 57.3% the previous year.

The steady improvement reflected a favorable change in the product mix, with higher sales of progressive lenses, and productivity gains for both standard and prescription lenses.

Operating Expenses

Operating expenses amounted to EUR1,085 million in 2006 versus EUR969.4 million in 2005, representing 40.3% of revenue, a 0.3-point increase over the year.

The total includes EUR127.6 million in R&D and engineering costs (net of a EUR3 million tax credit), EUR604.5 million in selling and distribution costs, and EUR352.9 million in other operating expenses. Marketing and advertising spend was increased in 2006, to support the launch of Varilux Physio(TM). The Company also pursued several major prescription lens engineering projects and upgraded its European information systems.

Contribution from operations1 in euros and as a percentage of revenue Change in contribution Reported Like-for-like Effect of Currency from operations1 in 2006 changes in effect scope of consolidation In millions of euros 61.5 57.3 4.2 0 In % + 14.6% + 13.6% + 1.0% --

(1) Operating profit before share-based payments, restructuring costs and other non-recurring items, and goodwill impairment.

Contribution from operations increased 14.6% to EUR481.9 million from EUR420.4 million in 2005.

The contribution margin was 0.6 points higher at 17.9% of revenue. The increase was attributable to strong business volumes in all of the Company's host regions, which more than offset the increase in strategic and support function costs.

Other Income and Expenses from Operations

Other income and expenses from operations represented a net expense of EUR21.7 million in 2006 compared with a net expense of EUR24.9 million the year before. The main items reported under this caption are as follows:

- Stock option and stock grant costs, in the amount of EUR11.2 million versus EUR8.1 million.

- Employee stock ownership plan costs of EUR4.8 million versus EUR4.2 million.

- Restructuring costs of EUR2.7 million, corresponding mainly to the cost of closing a glass lens plant in Ireland.

- Goodwill impairment losses, which fell to EUR2.9 million from EUR10.9 million.

Operating Profit

Operating profit (contribution from operations - other income and expenses from operations, net +/- gains and losses on asset disposals) rose 16.8% to EUR459.8 million from EUR393.6 million, representing 17.1% of revenue versus 16.2% in 2005.

Change in operating Reported Like-for-like Effect of Currency profit in 2006 changes in effect scope of consolidation In millions of euros 66.2 59.6 6.7 0 In % + 16.8% + 15.1% + 1.7% -- Finance costs and Other Financial Income and Expenses

Finance costs and other financial income and expenses represented a net expense of EUR19.9 million in 2006 compared with EUR18.7 million the year before. Higher cash reserves led to a reduction in net finance costs, but net exchange losses and net losses on remeasurement of financial instruments at fair value both increased.

Income Tax Expense

The effective tax rate paid by the Company stood at 31.2% in 2006 versus 28.9% in 2005. The higher rate stemmed mainly from the increased contribution to profit of entities in North America, the Company's highest tax region, and from the reduction in tax incentives received by the Company in Brazil.

Share of Profits of Associates

This item corresponds to the Company's share of the profits of VisionWeb (44.03%-owned), Bacou-Dalloz (15.04%-owned) and Transitions (49%-owned). Share of profit of associates rose by 26.7% in 2006 to EUR28.5 million, led by Transitions' strong earnings performance.

Profit Attributable to Equity Holders of the Parent and Earnings Per Share

Profit for the year totaled EUR331.2 million, an increase of 14.6%. Profit attributable to equity holders of the parent was 14.3% higher, at EUR328.3 million, representing 12.2% of revenue versus 11.8% in 2005. Earnings per share grew 14.1% to EUR3.21.


Inventories and Working Capital Requirement

Inventories amounted to EUR371.1 million at December 31, 2006 compared with EUR364.6 million at the previous year-end. The like-for-like increase was just 4.3%, significantly below the rate of revenue growth.

Investments in EUR millions 2006 2005 Capital expenditure net of the 191.9 173,8 proceeds from asset sales Depreciation and amortization 132.2 120.8 Gross financial investments 81.3 175.8 Cash flow1 449.0 388.9

(1) Cash provided by operations less change in working capital requirement and provisions.

Capital expenditure net of disposals totaled EUR191.9 million or 7.1% of consolidated revenue.

Of this, Europe accounted for EUR69 million, North America EUR63 million, and the rest of the world EUR59.9 million.

Spending broke down as follows:

- Around 30% was devoted to series production.

- Around 60% was used to equip prescription laboratories, most of this for anti-reflection machines and digitally controlled machines needed to deploy the digital surfacing technology used in the production of the new Varilux Physio(TM) progressive lens.

- Around 10% went to various uses in Research and Development and Instruments.

Net financial investments amounted to EUR70.8 million in 2006. Acquisitions and loans to non-consolidated companies accounted for EUR59.7 million, while buybacks of convertible bonds and the allocation of shares upon exercise of stock options represented EUR11.1 million.

Cash Flow Statement in EUR millions Net cash from operations 456 Capital expenditure 192 net of disposals1 Proceeds from employee share 33 Change in WCR and 7 issue provisions Effect of changes in exchange 33 Dividends 96 rates and in the scope of consolidation Financial 71 investments net of the proceeds from disposals1 Increase in net cash 157 position

(1) In all, the proceeds from disposals of property, plant and equipment and non-current financial assets totaled EUR24.1 million in 2006.

Higher profitability and the Company's robust performance in 2006 drove an increase in net cash despite the sharp rise in dividends and the ambitious program of industrial and financial investment.

Essilor ended the year with a net cash position of EUR210 million.

Key ratios

- Return on equity (ROE)

Return on equity - corresponding to the ratio of net profit to equity - climbed to 17.3% in 2006 from 17.1% the previous year.

- Return on assets (ROA)

Return on assets - corresponding to the ratio of EBIT to non-current assets and working capital - rose sharply, to an historical high of 28% from 24.8% in 2005.

No events affecting the accounts at December 31, 2006 have occurred since the year-end.


In 2006, Essilor continued to expand internationally, entering into many partnerships on several continents. The Company also further strengthened its positions in the prescription lens market and in finished lens distribution.

In all, 22 transactions were completed during the year, adding EUR73.9 million in annual revenue at a total cost of EUR54.4 million.

North America

In the United States, Essilor of America acquired 12 new prescription lens laboratories, in line with its strategy of offering a high quality service to eye care professionals and enhancing its technology base. These companies are:.

- Eye Care Express Lab Inc. based in Houston, Texas. - Accu Rx based in Johnston, Rhode Island. - Uniscoat Inc., based in California. - PerfeRx Optical Co., Inc., based in Massachusetts. - Future Optics, Inc. based in Largo, Florida. - Ozarks Optical Laboratories, Inc. based in Springfield, Missouri. - Precision Optical Laboratory, Inc. based in Gallaway, Tennessee. - Precision Optical Laboratory, Inc. based in Hartford, Connecticut.

- Homer Optical Company, Inc. the 12th largest independent laboratory in the United States (source: Vision Monday), owner of four prescription lens laboratories located in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New York State.

- Sunstar, based in Nevada and Utah.

- Aspen Optical, based in Mesa, Arizona.

- Peninsula Optical Lab Inc., based in Seattle, Washington.

The Company also acquired the assets of Vision Star LLC, a developer of laboratory management software, and Prio Corporation, a distributor of correctional lenses for the diagnosis and treatment of Computer Vision Syndrome.

In Canada, Essilor acquired a majority stake in SDL, an independent laboratory based in Quebec.


In Romania, Essilor acquired its local distributor, Varirom.


In New Zealand, a controlling interest was acquired in Wellington-based Prolab and the stake in Christchurch-based Olab was raised to 50%.

In Australia, Essilor acquired Tec Optik Pty Ltd, a prescription lens laboratory in Sydney.


Essilor India, a subsidiary of Essilor International, and India's GKB Rx Lens Private Ltd entered into a joint-venture agreement through which Essilor India acquired a 50% interest in GKB's prescription laboratory and lens wholesaling business. The agreement includes an option to increase Essilor's stake in the future.

GKB Rx Lens Private Ltd, a family-owned company that played a leading role in developing the Indian ophthalmic lens industry, owned a network of eight prescription lens laboratories.

The joint venture has enabled Essilor to expand its presence in India and bolster its multi-network strategy. With solid positions in all of the country's leading cities, the Company is today number one in India's fast growing plastic and progressive lens market.

During the year, the Company also acquired the assets of Delta CNC, a laboratory based in Ahmedabad.


Recent Acquisitions

Since the beginning of the year, Essilor has kicked off a new phase in its acquisitions program.

In France, the Company has acquired a majority stake in the Novacel group, expanding its international network of wholesale distributors.

Novacel distributes a full range of lenses under its own brands in France and other European markets and operates a prescription laboratory. It reported 2006 revenue of approximately EUR39 million.

The partnership will enable Essilor to offer alternative products and services, while Novacel - a recognized market player - will receive the backing needed to sustain its long-term development.

In the United States, Essilor of America has acquired:

- Beitler McKee Optical Company, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which has annual revenue of some $13 million.

- Personal Eyes, a company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota with annual revenue of $2 million and 14 employees.


During 2007, Essilor will pursue its innovation-led strategy. At the beginning of the year, the Company launched a new progressive lens, Anateo(TM)/Accolade(TM). Essilor will also keep up its program of targeted acquisitions in the ophthalmic lens industry.


CONTACT: Veronique Gillet, Phone: +33-(0)-1-49-77-42-16

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