* Q1 EBIT 1.01 mln DKK vs 974 mln average forecast
* Lifts sales outlook to 8 pct organic revenue growth
* Shares up 3.3 pct at 1326 GMT (Adds CFO, analyst quote, background, share price)
COPENHAGEN, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Danish healthcare products maker Coloplast raised its full-year sales guidance after double-digit sales growth in all business units in the first quarter, driven by investment in its sales force.
The group now expects revenue growth of around 8 percent in local currencies from a previous guidance of around 7 percent.
“We are seeing the results of the professionalisation of our sales force throughout the last five years,” chief financial officer Lene Skole told Reuters,
The company, which since 2008 has aimed to strengthen its sales force’s knowledge of hospital and health care systems, sells products ranging from ostomy and urine bags to wound dressings.
Operating margin reached 32 percent in 2012-2013, up from 12 percent in 2007-2008, driven by cost cuts at its production units and efficiency gains in administration, where it has managed to halve costs through outsourcing.
Coloplast kept its guidance for EBIT margin of around 33 percent in 2013/14.
The company is now focussed on investments in emerging markets, and in developed countries outside of its core European business such as Brazil and the United States.
The company said it will hire more sales people in all of its business units and geographical areas in the coming year and overall investments in sales-enhancing activities are now expected to be between 200 and 250 million Danish crowns ($36.62-$45.78 million) in 2013/14, up from earlier guidance of 150-200 million crowns.
Coloplast said earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rose 13 percent to 1.01 billion Danish crowns ($185 million) in October-December, above a forecast of 974 million crowns in a Reuters poll..
Sydbank analyst Soren Lontoft Hansen said the organic growth, excluding acquisitions, in all business areas was higher than the market had expected: “Especially in the Wound and Skin care division, which has been the company’s Achilles heel”.
Shares in Coloplast jumped 3.3 percent at 1326 GMT, outperforming a 0.8 percent rise in the Copenhagen stock exchange’s benchmark index.
Coloplast is among the three most highly valued stocks in the Thomson Reuters Europe Medical Equipment Index , with a price to book ratio of 11.2. It has the highest return on equity in the index at 42.32 percent, Reuters data show.
Coloplast has few direct competitors, but its peers includes Britain’s Smith & Nephew.
$1 = 5.4610 Danish crowns Reporting by Stine Jacobsen, additional reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Mark Potter and Elaine Hardcastle