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Rapid testing no substitute to COVID vaccination: Cochlear boss

The $17 billion hearing implants maker posted record sales of $1.4 billion for the 12 months to June and managed to spring from its $238 million loss in 2020 to a $327 million net profit for 2021.

The profit exceeded expectations, but overall sales came in slightly below analyst predictions. The net profit was also propped up by $90 million in one-off gains, including a $59 million tax benefit related to Cochlear’s payments to settle a patent litigation last year and $31 million in non-cash net gains from its innovation fund, which backs other medtech companies.

In 2020, the Belgian sleep treatments maker Nyxoah completed a stockmarket listing, while the value of Cochlear’s stake in seizure-tracker EpiMinder increased after a fundraising round.

Cochlear has faced challenging trading conditions over the past 18 months due to elective surgery shutdowns across the globe, which prompted an 80 per cent drop in implant sales in April of last year.

Mr Howitt has consistently told investors that patience would be needed to see a bounceback in demand.

On Friday morning, the company confirmed that rescheduled surgeries from COVID-19 shutdowns had helped drive its growth, with sales up 6 per cent on the 2019 financial year, which was the last time the business had not been affected by COVID-19.

Goldman Sachs analysts said the company’s earnings forecasts pointed to the overall recovery taking some time, however.

“FY22 earnings guidance implies a +0-2% 3-year [compound annual growth rate] from FY19, suggesting the recovery will likely still take longer than for many other stocks in the sector,” its research team said in a note to clients.

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