August 9, 2012 / 7:32 AM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 2-GN Store Nord says to launch new hearing aids

* New top-end hearing aids due in late September

* Q2 underlying EBITA 185 mln Danish crowns vs 180 mln poll

* Company sees 2012 EBITA of 815-875 mln crowns

* Says hearing aids business gained market share (Adds details, quotes throughout; updates shares to close)

By John Acher and Teis Jensen

COPENHAGEN, Aug 9 (Reuters) - GN Store Nord plans to keep pace with developments in smart phone technology when it launches iphone-compatible hearing aids next month, the company said on Thursday.

Lars Viksmoen, head of the group’s hearing aids division ReSound, said the new premium hearing aids will be based on the 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) frequency used by smart phones such as Apple’s iPhone and other mobile electronic gadgets.

By using this high-frequency wireless technology, hearing aids can receive sound across distances of up to 7 metres from TVs, mobile phones and other audio devices.

The world’s most valuable technology company Apple said in a June preview of its new iOS 6 software for its iPhone that it is working with hearing aid manufacturers to introduce “Made-for-iPhone” hearing aids.

“Other smartphone manufacturers have also started activities in this field,” GN Store Nord said.

Viksmoen said such developments among electronic gadget makers could be a competitive advantage for ReSound, which already has a hearing aid in the 2.4 GHz frequency which enables compatibility - known as streaming - with mobile devices.

Investor relations chief Michael Bjergby told Reuters that the hearing aids would remain GN’s own products but could be labelled “made-for-iPhone” if ReSound reaches a deal with Apple.

“You can assume that such products will be coming pretty soon to the market,” he said.

Headsets made by GN’s Netcom division are already sold in Apple stores.

GAINING MARKET SHARE

The Danish hearing aids and headset maker, which reported a 36 percent rise in underlying second-quarter profits on Thursday, said it was helped by sales growth, market share gains and restructuring.

“We are gaining market share, and this is the eighth consecutive quarter of growth and market share gains,” Viksmoen said in a conference call for analysts.

GN’s main rivals in the hearing aids business are Swiss group Sonova, German conglomerate Siemens and compatriot William Demant.

GN Store Nord shares closed up 4.8 percent, outperforming a 0.9 percent rise in the Copenhagen bourse’s benchmark index .

Overall the hearing aid market remained “reasonably resilient” to macroeconomic conditions, though second-quarter market growth of 2 percent was lower than the historic trend and prices were under pressure, GN Store Nord said.

Underlying second-quarter group earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) rose to 185 million Danish crowns ($31 million), compared with a forecast for 180 million in a Reuters poll.

GN Store Nord narrowed guidance for 2012 EBITA to 815-875 million crowns, from an earlier range of 800-900 million, and forecast organic revenue growth of 4-6 percent, having previously said it expected more than 5 percent.

GN said the upper end of its forecast 3-5 percent organic growth at ReSound was “most likely” based on the planned launch of the new hearing aid product group and continued good sales of its Alera hearing aids which were launched two years ago.

Second-quarter revenue rose 14 percent to 1.52 billion crowns, against a forecast for 1.50 billion.

The company said it would carry out a 400 million crowns share buyback following its current 1.3 billion programme. ($1=6.0235 Danish crowns) (Reporting by Copenhagen newsroom; Editing by Dan Lalor and Mike Nesbit)

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