BUSINESS: Financial Alcon Reports Double-Digit Sales Growth in Vision Care, Surgical in First Quarter By Staff Thursday, May 12, 2022 12:24 AM GENEVA—Calling its performance “a strong start to the year,” Alcon (SIX/NYSE:ALC) reported that worldwide sales increased 14 percent on a reported basis to $2.2 billion in its first quarter ended March 31. The increase was 18 percent on a constant currency basis, as compared with the same quarter of 2021. Sales in both the surgical and vision care categories “benefited from product innovation, improvements across geographies reflecting continuing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and sales from recent acquisitions,” Alcon noted in its announcement this week.In the vision care category, which includes the company’s contact lens and ocular health businesses, net sales rose 10 percent to $0.9 billion, or 14 percent on a constant currency basis, compared to the first quarter of 2021. Contact lens sales benefited from growth in silicone hydrogel contact lenses, including the Precision1 and Dailies Total1 product families and Total30. Growth in ocular health was led by demand for Systane dry eye and Simbrinza glaucoma eye drops, as well as improvements in select international markets, partially offset by declines in contact lens care, Alcon noted in its announcement. Sales of contact lenses totaled $557 million in the quarter, an increase of 9 percent. “We saw a strong start to the year and our first-quarter results demonstrate the continued strength of our innovative product portfolio and commercial execution,” David J. Endicott, Alcon's chief executive officer, said in the announcement. “The Alcon team delivered double-digit sales growth in both our franchises, which drove operating leverage and improved profitability across the business.” He added, “While we are pleased with these results, we continue to expect broader headwinds, including inflation and foreign exchange pressures, to persist. Despite this, we are increasing our constant currency growth outlook for 2022 based on our strong underlying business and growing market shares. I want to thank our 24,000 associates for their continued commitment and dedication to helping people see brilliantly.” In the surgical category, net sales totaled $1.3 billion, which includes implantables, consumables and equipment, an increase of 17 percent, or 22 percent on a constant currency basis. Implantables growth reflected ongoing adoption of advanced technology intraocular lenses, led by Vivity, and sales of the Hydrus Microstent following the recent acquisition of Ivantis, Alcon noted. On the bottom line, operating income in the first quarter totaled $246 million with an operating margin of 11.3 percent (compared with 7.8 percent a year ago). Operating margin increased as a result of improved operating leverage from higher sales, which was partially offset by increased inflationary impacts and other factors, Alcon noted. On April 27 at the company's annual meeting, the shareholders approved a dividend of CHF 0.20 per share, which was paid in May 2022 for an amount of $100 million, Alcon said.