* Dental implant maker’s profit rises to 34 mln euros
* Analysts had expected profit of 17 mln euros
* Profit rise due to currency gains, cost cutting
* CEO says group not losing further market share in 2009
* Shares rise 5.6 percent
(Adds details, CEO comments, shares, analysts, background)
By Sven Egenter
ZURICH, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Swiss dental implant maker Nobel Biocare NOBN.VX more than doubled its third-quarter profit as cost cuts and currency gains offset falling sales and it said it was not losing market share this year.
The group’s shares were up 5.6 percent at 30.42 Swiss francs by 0835 GMT, outperforming a 1.3 percent rise in main rival Straumann (STMN.S) and a 0.4 percent dip in the DJ Stoxx European healthcare index .SXDP
Nobel, the world’s largest producer of dental implants, again refrained from giving a detailed outlook, saying only that markets were showing signs of stabilisation, though it was too early to talk of recovery.
Nobel Biocare has been harder hit by the global recession than Straumann because of its stronger presence in the U.S. and its focus on more expensive, larger scale treatments.
Nobel’s third-quarter net profit jumped to 34 million euros ($50 million), beating analysts’ average forecast in a Reuters poll of 17 million euros, though half of the profit was due to currency gains as the group changed its funding structure.
“The results have no major flaws,” analysts at bank Wegelin said in a note to clients. “It is especially positive that Nobel has apparently not lost further market share.”
Group revenue fell to 125 million euros, a 7.7 percent decline when stripping out currency effects, short of analysts’ average forecast for 130 million euros and faring worse than Straumann, which reported only a 1 percent dip in sales.
Nobel’s sales shrank 10 percent in the first nine months when adjusted for currency swings, the group said.
Straumann said last week it was narrowing the gap on the market leader, but Nobel chief executive Domenico Scala told journalists the group was not losing market share in 2009.
Straumann had disappointed investors by saying demand was unlikely to recover strongly in the near term, though the Swiss group still outshone U.S. rivals such as Zimmer ZMH.N or Biomet [LVBHAB.UL].
Nobel’s shares, which have risen 35 percent this year, trade at 19.5 times forecast 2010 earnings, an 11 percent discount to Straumann’s 22. (Editing by Will Waterman) ($1=.6782 Euro)