(Corrects story to say sales were dented by U.S. retail network, not declined)
By John Miller
ZURICH, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Swiss hearing aid maker Sonova reported first-half results that fell short of analyst expectations, as sales in the United States were dented by an overhaul of the company’s retail network there.
Profit after minority interests rose 15.6 percent to 173.1 million Swiss francs ($173.80 million), less than the 180 million francs average forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll. Sales rose 17 percent to 1.25 billion francs, also shy of the 1.29 billion forecast.
Shares fell 8.6 percent in early trading.
Staefa, Switzerland-based Sonova has bulked up in Europe with its nearly $1 billion acquisition of Netherlands-based hearing aid retailer AudioNova last year. Still, the company is rebuilding in the United States as it streamlines retail outlets, a development that flattened growth in what is its second-biggest market.
Sonova’s broader push into retail has also changed business patterns, with sales turning sluggish in the first half and then growing during the winter months, said Chief Executive Lukas Braunschweiler.
“The key thing is, the group has with the strong position in retail has become much more seasonal,” said Braunschweiler, who steps down in April to be replaced by Arnd Kaldowski.
“The second half is in general stronger than the first half, it’s always been like that but its even more pronounced now.” ($1 = 0.9960 Swiss francs) (Reporting by John Miller, editing by Louise Heavens)