Cochlear shares break through $100

By Trevor Chappell
AAP
Bionic ear maker Cochlear has delivered a 32 per cent rise in first half profit.

Shares in Cochlear surged past $100 as the hearing implant supplier delivered better than expected half year profit growth, boosted its dividend and upgraded its full year earnings guidance.

The shares soared 14.1 per cent to a record high of $104.05.

A weaker Australian dollar and recently released new products helped boost sales in the six months to December, delivering a net profit of $94 million, up 32 per cent from a year earlier.

Cochlear now expects to make a full year profit of between $180 million and $190 million - up from its previous guidance of $165 million to $175 million.

The improved forecast is based primarily on the Australian dollar's falling value.

Shareholders are being rewarded with a 22 per cent rise in Cochlear's interim dividend, to $1.10 per share.

Chief executive Chris Smith said the company's positive momentum of 2015 was continuing into 2016.

Cochlear's implant business and services business, which provides sound processor upgrades and accessories, achieved strong growth, he said.

Implant sales rose 26 per cent, boosted by the sale of 1700 units in a tender to China, stronger marketing in the United States and Germany, and new products including Nucleus Profile implants - the thinnest in the world.

"Looking forward, we have an exciting pipeline of products to be released over the next 18 months across all categories of our business," Mr Smith said.

"The services business continues to grow strongly and now represents around 25 per cent of sales revenue.

"We are building a lifetime relationship with our recipients to provide products, programs and services, and expect its contribution to continue to trend upward over time as the recipient base grows."

Mr Smith said the Asia Pacific region was "the darling of the half", generating 69 per cent revenue growth to $107 million.

Australia and India showed strong revenue growth, and China was strong in both the private and tender markets.

"China continues to be very, very important to us as an organisation. We're expanding our presence in China," Mr Smith said.

China was moving from an emerging market to a developed market, and healthcare was front and centre, he said.

OptionsXpress market analyst Ben Le Brun said Cochlear's growth numbers were impressive and its profit beat market estimates.

Coupled with an improved full year guidance, the company's share price was being rewarded.

"The market is clearly hearing what they have said today," Mr Le Brun said.

GLOWING COCHLEAR RESULT BOOSTS SHARES


  • Net profit up 32pct to $94.03m


  • Sales revenue up 32pct to $581.7m


  • Interim dividend up 20 cents to $1.10