November 10, 2009 / 6:19 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-Sonova H1 profit up 22 pct, raises outlook

* Sonova H1 profit 164 mln Sfr vs 147 mln forecast

* Expects organic sales growth of 13-15 pct for yr

* Shares jump 7.6 pct, outperform market

(Adds details, shares, analyst quote)

ZURICH, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Swiss hearing aid maker Sonova SOON.VX reported a 22 percent rise in first-half net profit, helped by recent product launches, and increased its full-year outlook.

Shares in Sonova, which on Monday agreed to buy U.S company Advanced Bionics for $489 million, traded up 7.6 percent at 121 Swiss francs at 0834 GMT, outperforming a flat Swiss blue-chip index .SLI.

The world’s leader in sales of hearing implants said net profit rose to 164 million Swiss francs ($162.5 million) for the half-year ended Sept. 30, beating the average forecast of 147 million francs in a Reuters poll of 10 analysts.

The company raised its outlook for organic sales growth to 13-15 percent in local currencies for the financial year 2009-2010, from a previous 6-8 percent, following higher-than-expected sales in the first half.

“Sonova’s innovative products and product mix is helping them to weather the crisis,” said analysts from private bank Wegelin in a research note.

“Thus Sonova has further distanced itself from its rivals and the share remains a pearl among the (defensive) second-liner stocks,” said the Wegelin analysts.

Sonova has a global market share in the segment of some 23 percent, ahead of rivals Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and William Demant WDH.CO which have 22 percent each.

Profit was hit by a previously reported one-off cost of 6.4 million francs which Sonova incurred as part of a settlement with the German Federal Cartel Office.

Group sales jumped by 18.2 percent to a record 709 million Swiss francs, far outpacing the market, Sonova said. Currency effects had a negative impact of 3.6 percent on sales.

It said its earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) margin for the year would be in the 27 to 28 percent range.

On Monday, the company cemented its position as global market leader when it said it had agreed to buy Advanced Bionics, a cochlear implant maker spun off by Boston Scientific (BSX.N) in 2007. [ID:nL9341101]

The company said research and development costs grew almost 10 percent to around 43 million francs, or 6 percent of sales, in its efforts to renew its portfolio of products and improve its technology.

Shares in Sonova have risen around 77 percent in 2009, outperforming a 62 percent rise in the stock of direct rival William Demant anda 6 percent gain in the DJ Stoxx European healthcare sector index .SXDP.

Reporting by Martin de Sa'Pinto; Editing by Erica Billingham

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