Cochlear profit plummets as firm plans implant relaunch

Australia's Cochlear ($COH), the largest maker of hearing devices, saw its profits slump by 68% in the last fiscal year, but the company is planning to relaunch its recalled bionic ear implant.

Cochlear recalled all models of the Nucleus CI500 in September 2011, and its business has been on the decline ever since, with fiscal 2012 profits falling to $56.8 million Australian ($60.2 million) from $180 million Australian ($190.8 million) the previous year. Gross profits were $158.1 million Australian ($167.5 million), but recall costs of $101.3 million Australian ($107.3 million) staggered the company's growth, The Australian reports.

But Cochlear has plotted a way forward, announcing plans to relaunch the Nucleus CI500. However, the company declined to specify a timeline and, considering it will need to regain regulatory approval in all of the world's markets, it could be some time before the company can get its top-selling implant back on shelves, according to Reuters.

In the meantime, investors remain wary, as shares fell 8% after the company announced its results and vague plans to get the Nucleus CI500 on the market again. 

Cochlear currently holds about 70% of the world market share for hearing implants, Reuters notes, and its recent woes could open the door for some of its competitors, like Switzerland's Sonova's Advanced Bionics, which has amplified its sales efforts to take advantage of the slumping giant.

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