Nobel Biocare Falls Most Since 2010 on Forecast: Zurich Mover

Nobel Biocare Holding AG fell the most in almost two years in Zurich trading after the world’s second-biggest dental implant maker forecast disappointing sales and profit amid a slump in European revenue.

The stock declined 16 percent in Zurich, the biggest drop since April 28, 2010. It was the biggest decliner in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index today.

Earnings before interest and taxes will be in line with 2011 and sales will probably gain about 2 percent to 4 percent, the Glattbrugg, Switzerland based-company said in a statement today. Analysts had predicted a 22 percent profit increase and a 4.6 percent jump in sales, based on the average estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Weakness in Europe, especially in the southern part of the continent, curbed sales growth last year and the region looks “increasingly challenging” for 2012, Nobel Biocare said. The company will increase spending on product development, sales, marketing and technology this year to improve efficiency, Chief Executive Officer Richard Laube said.

“The macro environment in Europe is clearly making life very difficult for the company, pressure which doesn’t look like going away any time soon,” Tom Jones, an analyst at Berenberg Bank in London, said in a report to clients today. “What matters more is whether a sustainable earnings recovery comes in 2013 and beyond. Spending a bit more now can only increase the chances of that happening.”

Japan’s Tsunami

Sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa fell 5 percent at constant exchange rates last year. Sales in Japan also dropped after the earthquake and tsunami in March. Nobel Biocare lost its ranking as the world’s largest dental implant maker in 2010 to Straumann Holding AG amid weak demand in Europe, particularly in Spain.

Earnings before interest and tax fell 15 percent to 72.1 million euros ($96 million) in 2011. Analysts had forecast 2012 profit on that basis of 88.1 million euros, the average of 20 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

“We are cautious on the market in 2012,” Laube said on a conference call with analysts. “It does us no good to be over-optimistic. Europe is increasingly challenging. It’s very difficult for us to predict short term all of the twists and turns that Europe will take.” He joined the company last year, after leading Nestle SA’s Nutrition unit.

Fourth-quarter net income rose to 13.3 million euros, missing the average estimate of 18.1 million euros from eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Sales rose 1 percent to 154.6 million euros. The company proposed a dividend of 15 centimes a share, compared with 35 centimes a share in 2010.

The stock rose the most in nine years on Oct. 24 after NZZ am Sonntag reported that EQT Partners AB and Bain Capital LLC were considering buying the Swiss dental-implant maker. Nobel Biocare isn’t in talks with anyone about a possible sale, Laube said today on a conference call with reporters.

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