Eye care products maker Alcon Inc , which is being acquired by Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG , reported higher fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, helped by double-digit sales increases in the U.S. and emerging markets.

Alcon posted a net profit of $458 million, or $1.51 per share, compared with a profit of $424 million, or $1.41 per share, a year ago.

Excluding items, such as a $30 million tax expense, Alcon earned $1.61 per share. Analysts on average expected $1.51 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue for the quarter rose 14.5 percent to $1.72 billion, exceeding Wall Street estimates of $1.6 billion.

For 2010, Alcon said it expects organic sales growth to return to the mid-to-high single digits with full year earnings of $7.30 to $7.55 per share.

The planned Novartis acquisition has been highly contentious as the drugmaker has offered minority shareholders substantially less to tender their Alcon shares that it will pay Swiss conglomerate Nestle SA for its majority stake in Alcon.

(Reporting by Bill Berkrot, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)