An Investment Theme with Staying Power

Day in and day out, I scour the market looking for investment opportunities. When you settle on an investment theme that really makes sense, you automatically pay more attention to companies that fit into this category.

I talked before about the eye care industry as an investment theme with long-term staying power. Not only is this industry that’s almost recession-proof, but there is also significant growth opportunities developing, as technological innovation creates more products that consumers want.

One of my favorite companies in the eye care business is LCA- Vision Inc. (NASDAQ/LCAV). This stock is up about fourfold in the last year and a half, and it looks to be able to maintain its current momentum on the stock market.

Another company that looks very interesting in the eye care business is IntraLase Corp. (NASDAQ/ILSE). This recently listed small-cap specializes in making ultra-fast lasers and related products for a type of laser eye surgery. As you know, many people don’t like wearing glasses or contact lenses, and an increasing number of people are choosing corrective laser eye surgery to fix their eyesight. I wear glasses, too, and there’s no question that they are often a burden.

In the first quarter of 2005, IntraLase generated revenues that increased an impressive 123% to $21.2 million, as compared to $9.5 million in the first quarter of 2004. With strong global sales of lasers, the company was able to generate a net income of $2.0 million, or $0.06 per share, compared with a net loss of $2.1 million, or ($0.97) per share, in the 2004 first quarter. The company recently expanded into Ireland and Hungary, and its lasers are now available in the United States and 19 other countries.

Similar to LCA-Vision, IntraLase is riding the positive demographic wave in the eye care market. Clearly, the eye care industry is an investment theme that is worth looking into.