More Opportunities from the Eye Care Industry

You have to love the eye care industry. One way or another, eventually, the vast majority of people will have to spend some money on their eyes. With the demographic trend showing an ageing population, opportunity abounds in this market sector.

Long-time readers will know that I’ve previously written about LCA-Vision Inc., TLC Vision Corp., and Coastal Contacts Inc. as growing companies that are directly benefiting from strength in the eye care market. But let’s consider a large-cap player in this market.

Bausch & Lomb Inc. is a company that you most likely already know. This large-cap company was founded way back in 1853 and is headquartered in Rochester, New York. Frankly, this company is the eye care industry. They make soft and rigid contact lenses and lens care products, ophthalmic surgical products, and pharmaceutical products related for eye care health. The company has more than 12,000 employees selling products in over 100 countries.

If you aren’t following this company, you will be pleased to know that its stock just hit an all-time high on the New York Stock Exchange. If there was ever a validation of the eye care industry as a great investment theme, Bausch & Lomb’s business success illustrates the point.

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Just recently, the company announced plans to acquire about 70% of a Chinese eye drug company called Shandong Chia Tai Freda Pharmaceutical Group. China-based Shandong has some 1,300 employees that develop and manufacture medications to treat ocular inflammation and infection, glaucoma and dry eye. Bausch & Lomb expects the acquisition to be accretive to earnings in fiscal 2006.

Not surprisingly, Bausch & Lomb knows that China is a very important market for its products. With over a billion potential consumers who someday might want contact lenses or laser eye surgery, the China factor is an important component of the burgeoning eye care industry.

As I’ve written in the past, the eye care industry is an investment theme with excellent potential over the next two decades. I’ll keep on top of industry developments for you in this column. It isn’t the most glamorous of investment themes, but you just can’t argue with the fundamentals.