March 1, 2017 / 7:59 AM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Elekta Q3 core profit lags expectations, flags more measures in the US

(Adds details, background, CEO comment)

March 1 (Reuters) - Swedish radiotherapy equipment maker Elekta posted a surprise drop in fiscal third-quarter core earnings on Wednesday and announced further measures in the U.S. after a drop in orders in the North and South America region.

* Nov-Jan EBITA excl. one-off items and bad debt losses fell yr/yr to 325 mln SEK ($35.9 mln) from 335 mln vs Reuters poll fcast 443 mln

* CEO Richard Hausmann told Reuters lower profit comes on the back of a shift of planned linac revenue of 100 mln SEK to Q4 and smaller-than-expected net positive currency effect

* Q3 sales increased to 2.67 bln (2.55) with shipments of linear accelerators slightly lower compared with the same quarter last year

* Group order intake soared 40 pct to 3.65 bln SEK (2.62) vs fcast 3.04 bln, helped mainly by strong intake in the EMEA region

* Q3 order intake in North and South America, which account for the bulk of group sales, 36 pct, fell 3 pct

* CEO said to initiate further measures in the U.S. operations amid management issues

* Elekta, which has seen operating profit fall for three straight years amid tough market conditions, launched in 2015 a programme to cut costs, reduce inventory levels and improve margins

* Said on Wednesday activities related to transformation programme are progressing and delivering in line with defined targets for cost savings and margins

* CEO said have seen bigger interest for its high field MRI-guided radiation therapy system, MR linac, than expected

* Co. so far has agreements for 12 systems and still expects approval and launch at the end of 2017 calendar year

* Reiterated will reach target of 75 MR linac orders before end of 2019 calendar year

* Said in report co have a strong order backlog going into Q4 vs last year and it plans to deliver substantially more from backlog

* Main rival is U.S. group Varian Medical Systems with other competitors including U.S. Viewray

* Shares up 6.4 pct YTD vs a 5.4 pct YTD rise in STOXX Europe 600 Health Care Index Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage: ($1 = 9.0565 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Rebecka Roos)

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