Cochlear device 'game-changing'

Hearing implant maker trumpets new Nucleus 6 device approved in Europe.

Hearing implant maker Cochlear (COH) says its "game-changing" Nucleus 6 device will be the big driver behind its 2014 financial results.

The company says rollout of the device, which it describes as the most advanced cochlear implant sound processor ever released, is underway in Europe after its sale in the region was recently approved.

Regulatory approvals in other jurisdictions, including the key United States market, are expected during the year.

"We do think that how we go with Nucleus 6 will be important in terms of how fiscal 2014 will look, both in terms of various regulatory approvals and our ability to execute on these launches," Cochlear chief executive Dr Chris Roberts told reporters on Tuesday.

"And then it's how well we get traction on these truly game-changing features in this product."

The Nucleus 6 system has five times the processing power of the Nucleus 5 and can automatically process sounds according to the sound environment of the patient, such as speech, noise, music, quiet or wind.

Dr Roberts said it was the most advanced cochlear implant sound processor ever released in terms of hearing performance and usability.

Cochlear on Tuesday posted a net profit of $132.6 million for the 2012/13 financial year, up from $56.8 million in the previous year.

Its 2011/12 result was pulled back by $101.3 million in after-tax expenses linked to a recall of the CI500 series implant in September 2011.

The latest result was in line with guidance provided in June, when the company flagged weakness in its key market in the United States.

Cochlear subsequently lost nearly a fifth of its market value as investors dumped shares.

Dr Roberts on Tuesday said a record number of patients globally had received a Cochlear implant over 2012/13 and the company had focused on bringing new products to market, especially Nucleus 6.

But over the year, sales in the Americas had fallen four% to $284.4 million.

Sales of sound processor upgrades to existing cochlear implant recipients in the Americas were down $17.0 million ahead of the release of the Nucleus 6.

Sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa dropped one% to $283.0 million and sound processor upgrade sales were also down ahead of the release of the Nucleus 6.

But the Asia Pacific region was the standout performer, with sales jumping 20% to $147.6 million on the back of a large tender sale to China.

Shares in Cochlear were 41 cents higher at $59.56 at 1316 AEST on Tuesday.

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