BUSINESS: International News Cooper Companies’ Revenue Up 11 Percent in 1Q ’12 By Staff Monday, March 12, 2012 12:25 AM PLEASANTON, Calif.—The Cooper Companies (NYSE:COO) posted an 11 percent year-over year revenue increase, to $326.1 million, for the fiscal first quarter ended Jan. 31, 2012. CooperVision (CVI) revenue rose 10 percent to $268.9 million and CooperSurgical (CSI) revenue climbed 15 percent to $57.2 million. Commenting on the results, Robert S. Weiss, Cooper's president and chief executive officer, said, "We are pleased with our performance in the first quarter. Our strategy remains the same and our execution is illustrated in the numbers. We grew top line faster than our markets, we invested in our infrastructure with a focus on sales and marketing and research and development, and we posted double-digit earnings growth." Cooper cited several highlights in its first quarter operating results. Gross margin was 65 percent compared with 60 percent in last year's first quarter. The improvement was primarily the result of savings related to the closure of the Norfolk manufacturing plant completed in the fiscal first quarter of 2011, increased manufacturing efficiencies and product mix, the company said. Cooper reported that its operating margin was 19 percent compared with 17 percent in last year's first quarter, noting that the increase was driven by the improvement in gross margin offset by investments in sales, marketing, and research and development, and increased amortization expense. Depreciation expense was $20.2 million, up 11 percent from last year's first quarter. Amortization was $5.6 million, up 18 percent from last year's first quarter as a result of acquired intangible assets related to recent acquisitions. Interest expense totaled $3.7 million compared with $7.0 million in last year's first quarter. Total debt increased $29.9 million in the quarter to $410.3 million, due primarily to share repurchases. Cash provided by operations was $41.6 million, capital expenditures $20.0 million and insurance recovery $1.6 million, resulting in free cash flow of $23.2 million.