UPDATE 2-Nobel Biocare Q3 misses poll, still losing to rivals

* Nobel Biocare swings to Q3 net loss 17.8 mln euros

* Avge fcast in Reuters poll for 16.2 mln euro loss

* Sees market improving further 2011

* Analyst sceptical about company’s long-term prospects

* Shares rise 0.6 pct after early tumble to 7-yr low

(Recasts, adds analyst comment, shares, background)

By Katie Reid

ZURICH, Nov 3 (BestGrowthStock) – Dental implant maker Nobel Biocare
(NOBN.VX: ) swung to a wider-than-expected third-quarter net loss
due to losing more market share as patients remained wary about
its expensive treatments.

The Swiss group tried to strike an upbeat note on Wednesday,
saying it expected to return to growth next year and to catch
market growth in the next six to nine months because the
industry should improve further.

But Vontobel analyst Christoph Gubler said attempts to stop
losing market share were hitting gross and operating margins.

“This puts into question the long-term investment story,
which is based on volume growth and operating leverage leading
to margin expansion,” he said.

At 0936 GMT, Nobel Biocare shares, down 54 percent this
year, were trading 0.6 percent higher after falling more than 4
percent earlier in the session to their lowest since 2003.

“All in all, bad news should now be priced in and I wouldn’t
be surprised to see higher prices during today’s session and the
coming month,” one Zurich-based trader said.

Investors have grown impatient with Nobel Biocare’s failure
to deliver and Chief Executive Domenico Scala is under pressure
to prove he deserves to keep his job after it relinquished top
spot in the implant market this year. [ID:nLDE67O072]

Fresh worries about the health of the world’s economy have
also dented hopes of a recovery in the industry, hit hard during
the downturn as patients put off non-urgent treatments that are
generally not reimbursed by insurers.

Nobel Biocare posted a third-quarter net loss of 17.8
million euros ($24.82 million), trailing the average estimate in
a Reuters poll [ID:nLDE69S1DK]. That compares with a 33.6
million euro net profit in the same period in 2009.

The group said it was hopeful it would return to growth in
2011 after seeing stability in markets in the last few quarters.
It expects the dental implant market to grow 1 percent in 2010
and pick up in 2011.

Straumann (STMN.S: ), which replaced Nobel Biocare in top
spot, also sees low single-digit sector growth this year and has
said this could improve in 2011, but it cautioned consumer
confidence remained fragile. [ID:nLR409944]

Nobel Biocare is trading at around 15 times 2011 earnings, at
a discount to Straumann, which trades at around 20 times.
($1=.7172 Euro)
(Editing by David Hulmes)

UPDATE 2-Nobel Biocare Q3 misses poll, still losing to rivals