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Luxottica Net Up 23.5%

Boosted by global gains and a 17 percent lift in sales in emerging markets, the Italian eyewear-maker registered growing profits in the quarter ended March 31.

MILAN — Boosted by global gains and, in particular, a 17 percent lift in sales in emerging markets, Luxottica Group SpA registered growing profits and sales in the quarter ended March 31 and said it was looking at another year of growth in 2013.

Net profit climbed 23.5 percent to 159 million euros, or $210 million, compared with 129 million, or $169 million, in the same period the year before.

Adjusted net profit was up 10.5 percent from 144 million euros, or $188.6 million, in the first quarter of 2012 as this does not include restructuring costs related to the reorganization of the Australian retail business amounting to about 15 million euros, or $19.6 million. Adjusted earnings per share in the U.S. rose 9.5 percent to 45 cents.

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Sales in the first quarter rose 4.2 percent to 1.86 billion euros, or $2.46 billion, compared with 1.78 billion euros, or $2.33 billion.

Dollar amounts have been converted at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.

The Italian giant eyewear-maker owns brands including Ray-Ban, Oakley and Persol, and produces under license for top names including the Giorgio Armani Group, Bulgari, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, Prada and Versace.

“The first quarter has marked a strong, solid start to the year, sustained by all of our leading brands in all the geographic areas important to our company,” said chief executive officer Andrea Guerra. “The positive results in the first quarter of 2013 confirmed our expectations for the period and provide a strong basis for another year of growth. We have managed to improve on our record profits and net sales by focusing on the group’s unique and specific assets and continuing to invest in high-potential, fast-growing markets.”

Operating income rose 17.6 percent to 275 million euros, or $363 million, compared with 234 million euros, or $306.5 million. Adjusted operating income grew 7.7 percent from 255 million euros, or $334 million, which does not include restructuring costs related to the reorganization of the Australian retail business amounting to about 22 million euros, or $28.8 million.

“North America, our most important region, once again registered solid growth, after a few jitters in February and a slight pick-up in March, which has continued into April,” said Guerra.

The executive noted that the company performed “at three different speeds” in Europe: “very fast” in Eastern Europe and in Continental Europe “results have exceeded expectations and are extremely satisfactory.” Business in Mediterranean Europe “is going through a difficult patch, but Italy is keeping the pace” thanks to group investments, he explained.

Guerra touted the “excellent shape” of Luxottica’s brand portfolio and the performance of company-owned labels Ray-Ban and Oakley.

The new licensing agreement with the Giorgio Armani Group became operational in the first quarter of the year and in the period the company completed the merger with the Alain Mikli brand, “enriching the newly created Atelier Division.”

During the first quarter of 2013, the group invested about 138 million euros, or $182.1 million, in acquisitions. As of March 31, net debt stood at 1.81 billion euros, or $2.4 billion, compared with 1.66 billion euros, or $2.12 billion, at the end of December.