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Refractive laser surgery boost for Zeiss Meditec

15 May 2012

German firm sees revenues and profit rise strongly across all business units and key geographies.

Carl Zeiss Meditec, the medical technology specialist that is majority-owned by the German optics giant Carl Zeiss, has reported a strong set of data for the first six months of its current financial year – thanks in part to solid demand for a new femtosecond laser system used in refractive surgery.

The “ReLEx smile” procedure for correcting defective vision in patients helped to boost sales figures for the company’s ophthalmic systems division by 6.6% compared with the same period last year, to €184.8 million.

Overall, the company did even better than that, with CEO Ludwin Monz reporting close to a 15% increase in total sales to €431.8 million. And while the company continues to spend heavily on research and development, its profits were up even more strongly: Carl Zeiss Meditec posted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of €61.1 million, compared with €51.3 million a year ago.

“I am particularly delighted that we achieved very profitable growth,” said Monz in the company’s results statement. “The half-year result is an endorsement of our strategy to strengthen our broad business portfolio with innovations and to grow on a global scale.”

With sales increasing strongly in China, Japan, Australia, Russia and South America, it appears that Carl Zeiss Meditec is doing just that. All main geographic regions contributed to the revenue growth, with only pockets of weakness in some European countries.

However, Monz is expecting something of a slowdown in the second half of the financial year – partly due to seasonal effects – and is forecasting full-year sales of between €830 million and €860 million, suggesting a slight decline in revenues for the second half compared with the first.

Clinical trial for ReLEx in US
The company’s ReLEx platform is a new procedure for vision correction that is yet to gain full approval in the US – although last month the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) gave the go-ahead to a clinical trial for myopia treatment.

Carl Zeiss Meditec believes that its “VisuMax” femtosecond laser systems now have a 15% share of the laser refractive surgery market, up from 10% a year ago. The more conventional excimer laser systems still hold the greatest share of this market, at around 60%.

The company is also seeing solid demand for new products sold through its “microsurgery” business unit, including its Pentero surgical microscopes and Lumera systems used in cataract and retina surgeries.

Monz says that the continued development of innovative optics-based systems is the key to the company’s future growth in both sales and profitability, where he is aiming to deliver a 15% EBIT margin by 2015. One of the key measures of that commitment is the level of R&D spending, which is being maintained above 10% of company revenues.

Carl Zeiss Meditec now employs 367 people in its R&D operations, equivalent to 15% of its total workforce of 2439, which has increased by nearly 200 over the past 12 months. The Carl Zeiss Group owns 65% of the company, with 35% of Meditec shares freely floated.

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