February 19, 2013 / 6:31 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Nobel Biocare warns of difficult 2013 after Q4 profit drops

* Q4 net profit 11.2 mln euros vs 13.3 mln year-ago

* Dividend lifted to 0.20 Sfr a share vs 0.15 Sfr

* EBIT margin improvement of 50-100 basis points targeted (Adds details)

ZURICH, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Swiss dental implant maker Nobel Biocare Holding AG said it expects difficult conditions this year after fourth-quarter net profit dropped 16 percent to 11.2 million euros ($14.95 million) amid a sharp fall in sales in Japan.

Nobel, hard hit by a faltering global economy, said it would lift its dividend to 0.20 Swiss francs ($0.22) a share, from 0.15 in 2011.

“Within the next three to five years, assuming markets improve beyond 2013 to modest mid-single digit growth, Nobel Biocare targets growing at least in line with the market and to improve EBIT margin also continually between 50 to 100 (basis points) per annum at constant exchange rates,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

Nobel said sales in the quarter slipped 1.1 percent to 153 million euros, as negative publicity about dental implants in Japan hit sales there and offset gains from the strengthening U.S. dollar and Japanese yen against the euro.

Nobel and Swiss rival Straumann, which reports on Thursday, are faced with a declining dental implant market, as high unemployment, particularly in Europe, and a bleak economic outlook lead consumers to cut back on non-urgent dental treatment.

($1 = 0.7490 euros)

$1 = 0.9238 Swiss francs Reporting By Katharina Bart; Editing by Matt Driskill

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