Synthes 2007 Net Profit Up 20 Pct, Beats Forecasts

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss medical device maker Synthes Inc SYST.VX reported a 20 percent rise in 2007 net profit, beating analysts' average forecast, as sales grew across all regions and product lines.

The maker of medical nails, screws and plates to fix broken bones said on Thursday sales were likely to rise at a low-double digit percentage rate in local currencies in 2008.

Shares in Synthes were indicated to rise 1.2 percent in a Swiss market which was overall set to open lower, according to pre-market data provided by bank Clariden Leu CLPRE.

Synthes net profit rose to $612.6 million and sales grew by 15 percent to $2.76 billion, with sales growing 23 percent in Europe and 13 percent in North America, its largest market by revenue.

“The results are excellent and the outlook confident,” said ZKB analyst Sibylle Bischofberger. “They even managed to boost profitablity more than expected.”

Analysts had on average expected a net profit at Synthes, which also produces artificial spine discs, of $592 million and sales of $2.74 billion. [nL25387254]

Surgeon training and a controlled launch of artificial spine disc ProDisc-C started in January 2008, Synthes said. Many analysts see the spine disc business as a key driver for future growth at Synthes.

Analysts are now keen to see whether the firm’s chief executive Michel Orsinger, who took over from co-founder and majority shareholder Hansjoerg Wyss last year, will lay out more ambitious goals at an investor conference later in the day.

Synthes shares are largely flat this year but have lost 15 percent since hitting a record in January 2007.

Synthes shares trade at around 22 times forecast 2008 earnings, according to Reuters data, largely in line with other Swiss medical technology companies such as dental implant makers Straumann STMN.S, Nobel Biocare NOBB.VX and hearing aid maker Sonova SOON.S.

Reporting by Sven Egenter; Editing by David Holmes