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OFFICIAL CORRECTION-UPDATE 1-Sonova forecasts double-digit core profit growth this year
May 20, 2014 / 6:36 AM / in 4 years

OFFICIAL CORRECTION-UPDATE 1-Sonova forecasts double-digit core profit growth this year

(Sonova corrects CEO comment in paragraph 6. Removes reference to wireless connectivity)

* FY EBITA 430.1 mln Sfr, in line with expectations

* FY sales rise 8.7 pct to 1.95 bln Sfr, beat poll

* 2014/15 sales expected up 7-9 pct, EBITA to rise 11-15 pct

ZURICH, May 20 (Reuters) - Sonova, the world’s largest maker of hearing aids, forecast another year of double-digit earnings growth on Tuesday after strong sales of new products helped it post a 12 percent rise in full-year core profit.

The Swiss company, which competes with Denmark’s William Demant and GN Store Nord, expects 2014/2015 sales to grow by 7-9 percent and earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) to increase by 11 to 15 percent in local currencies.

Hearing aid makers are expected to benefit from the growing ranks of elderly and are bringing out new products, such as tiny invisible devices, to help reduce the stigma of wearing an aid.

Sonova has launched hearing aids in colours designed to blend in with skin and hair tone as well as models that are dust and water resistant. It has also introduced wireless hearing aids with accessories such as pens that act as microphones.

Rival GN Store Nord has developed a hearing aid in collaboration with Apple Inc <AAPL.O,> which allows users to stream voice and music from their iPhones.

Chief Executive Lukas Braunschweiler said Sonova would make an announcement about a new type of hearing aid platform in six months, without giving further details.

Sales in Sonova’s fiscal full-year to the end of March rose 8.7 percent to 1.95 billion Swiss francs ($2.2 billion), beating estimates and supported by double-digit growth in all three regions and strong demand for its Quest brand.

Excluding the impact of adverse currency moves, in particular a weaker U.S., Canadian and Australian dollar, Japanese yen and Brazilian real, sales were up 11.7 percent.

Sonova said EBITA increased to 430.1 million francs from 183 million a year earlier, in line with analyst expectations.

Profit last year was dragged down by provisions for potential claims against faulty cochlear implants at its subsidiary Advance Bionics.

The company proposed a dividend of 1.90 francs per share, up 19 percent over the previous year. ($1 = 0.8916 Swiss Francs) (Reporting by Caroline Copley, editing by Louise Heavens)

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