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Leica Annual Earnings Up 15.7 Percent

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May 24, 2006 – Leica Camera Group released its annual earnings report this month, pointing out a huge rush in sales and a gaining presence in the U.S. digital camera market. The company had sales of € 106.7 million, which is about $136.3 million USD. 2005 sales were up 15.7 percent from the previous year’s mark of € 92.1 million. Digital camera sales did particularly well in the latter half of the year, where holiday purchases perked up earnings.

The release of the long-anticipated Leica Digital Module R fueled a 12.2 percent increase in system camera sales. The Module hooks onto the back of the Leica R8 and R9 film cameras. The Digital Module R has a 10-megapixel image sensor and finally shipped in June 2005 after its announcement in mid-2004.

Compact digital cameras contributed to the positive report as well. Sales rose 6.6 percent in the past year. Leica has just a few compact models out, including the 5-megapixel Digilux 2 and the slim D-Lux 2 that looks like a Panasonic camera. Leica announced a compact digital camera last month, the C-Lux 1, that also looks like a product of a partnership with Panasonic. The C-Lux 1 did not contribute to the annual earnings, though, as the fiscal year ended March 31, 2006.

Leica Camera Group stated that 80.9 percent of its total sales come from outside the company’s home country of Germany. International sales are up 20.1 percent with the U.S. market being called "the Group’s most important individual market" in the press release.

The company reported an increase in sales of binoculars and sport optics along with a decrease in sales of slide projectors. Leica Camera Group also reported some losses due to its corporate restructuring. The endeavor cost the company € 6.8 million in 2005. Between the restructuring and the move to produce more digital products, Leica’s earnings have been in the red the past few years. This year, however, the company will make a € 0.6 million profit before taxes.

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