In a $50 billion deal announced today Italy’s Luxottica (LUX), the world’s leading eyewear company, will combine with France’s Essilor (ESLOY), the world’s biggest maker of lenses, to form a from lens to Sunglass Hut giant in the eyewear industry.
The market likes the proposal. Shares of Luxottica were up 8.22% today. Essilor climbed 13.25%. Luxottica has been a member of my long-term 50 Stocks portfolio since December 30, 2008. The stock is up 265.49% in that period.
The numbers show why this deal strikes the market so positively. Of the world’s 7.3 billion people, 63% or 4.6 billion are estimated to need some form of vision correction. But only 1.9 billion have purchased eye glasses, contract lenses or corrective surgery. That leaves 2.7 billion still in need of some form of vision correction.
Then add in the increased risk and increased awareness of the increased risk from the ultraviolet end of the sun’s spectrum plus the strain imposed by the blue light of computers and smartphones and the market gets even bigger.
And that’s just the “need” market. Luxottica has teamed with the luxury good industry to make sunglass and fashion eyewear a booming market for the global middle class. Cachet at an affordable price.
The deal isn’t a guaranteed easy sell to regulators in the European Union. The companies will argue that both the eyewear and lens sectors are full of competitors, but European competition officials could look instead at the immense clout the combined company will have across the vision correction market instead. If regulars don’t raise too many obstacles, the deal is expected to close by the end of 2017.