STAAR Surgical Company (NASDAQ:STAA) Q4 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Feb 26, 2020 • 04:30 pm ET
Global ICL units grew 27% in the fourth quarter. Q4 represented the 10th consecutive quarter of double-digit ICL sales and unit growth as our lenses continued to take share of the refractive market. Our EVO ICL family of lenses is growing at rates significantly above the low-to-mid single digits of many of our industry peers and we believe this demonstrates the growing reality that the future of refractive vision correction will be lens-based. The time for STAAR is now.
On a regional basis, ICL unit growth in the fourth quarter was driven by standout performance in several markets, including Japan units up 95%, China units up 43%, Germany units up 29%, Spain units up 20%, India units of 16%, and ICL units in the US up 10% as compared to the prior-year period. Growth during the fourth quarter and fiscal 2019 was driven by increased adoption of our lens-based solution to visual freedom by new and existing surgeon customers, new marketing programs, and new and expanding strategic cooperation and alliance agreements.
One example of our success in marketing during fiscal 2019 was a fourfold increase in the number of visits to our ICL website Doc Finder. We recorded more than 1 million visits to our Doc Finder in 2019. As a potential leading indicator of future ICL patients, the increasing visits to our Doc Finder illustrate that our marketing is resonating with potential patients as they seek to learn more on their ICL journey to achieve visual freedom. We exited 2019 with the significant $120 million of cash on our balance sheet and no long-term debt.
Let's turn now to the potential impact of the coronavirus. First, our thoughts are with all those who have been or may become impacted globally by the virus. We extend our heartfelt hope for swift and safe resolution of this global health concern. As you know at this time, the predominant impact of the virus is in China. We have been directly in touch with and working with our customers these last few weeks. Our customers are generally dedicated ophthalmic hospitals, universities and clinics, and as such, are usually physically separate from other types of hospitals or healthcare facilities. We understand they are hopeful to resume robust clinical activities, including implantation of the EVO ICL family of lenses in March. STAAR's China employees have been working remotely since February 3, following the Lunar New Year, and will continue to do so until they are permitted to return to in-office work by the Chinese government.
Currently, approximately half of our customers in China remain closed with the other half reopened, but only offering emergency services at this time. The STAAR China team has been engaged in an extensive remote customer outreach program, that includes online meetings and digital training courses. Engagement has been high. For example, during the week of February 10, STAAR China had more than 2,500 healthcare professionals participate in online training. Attendees included roughly 500 ophthalmic surgeons as well as nurses, examiners,