October 25, 2011 / 6:15 AM / 8 years ago

Straumann sees economic woes hitting dental implants

* Straumann sees market growth in low-to-mid-single digit range

* Straumann confident of outpacing market growth

* Q3 sales slip 6.7 pct, hit by strong Swiss franc

ZURICH, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Swiss dental implant maker Straumann expects the dental implant market to grow in the low-to-mid-single digit percentage range over the full year as economic uncertainty takes its toll.

But Straumann, which rivals Nobel Biocare , said it was confident it would be able to outpace market growth.

Straumann posted a 6.7 percent drop in third-quarter sales on Tuesday to 151 million Swiss francs ($170 million), slightly ahead of the average estimate of 149 million francs in a Reuters poll.

The group, which has been grappling with the impact of the strong Swiss franc, said its full-year operating margin is expected to be in the high teens.

“With its clinically proven products, organizational strength, differentiated services, and its investments in sales personnel, the Group is convinced that it can again deliver above-market performance over the full year,” it said in a statement.

The dental implant market was hit hard by the financial crisis, which prompted consumers to cut back on spending on non-urgent dental treatment generally not reimbursed by insurers.

There have been some signs that the industry was starting to recover, but investors are concerned the recovery could be brief as the economic outlook remains uncertain.

Still, analysts view the long-term prospects for the sector as bright thanks to ageing populations, and a rising awareness of the cosmetic advantages of implants and veneers. ($1 = 0.885 Swiss Francs) (Reporting by Katie Reid; Editing by Will Waterman)

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