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ZURICH, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Swiss dental implant maker Straumann said on Tuesday it had started a cost-cutting project as double-digit sales growth in North America failed to compensate for falls in austerity-hit Europe.
"Our environment has been disappointing and the gradual market improvement that we were expecting has not materialized," Chief Executive Beat Spalinger said in a statement. The Basel-based group makes more than half of its sales in Europe.
The economic downturn has battered sales of dental implants made by Straumann and its Swiss peer Nobel Biocare as austerity-hit patients cut back on pricey dental treatment in an anaemic economy.
First-half net profit after minorities rose 13.9 percent to 43.8 million Swiss francs ($45.01 million). Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a figure of 46.6 million francs on average. ($1 = 0.9732 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Caroline Copley)