Shares in hearing aid maker GN Store Nord plunge as quarterly sales disappoint

COPENHAGEN, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Shares in Danish hearing aid and audio company GN Store Nord plunged nearly 8% in early trade on Thursday after the company missed second-quarter sales expectations.

Sales rebounded in April-June after being hit badly by the pandemic a year earlier, but GN - a major supplier of hearing aids to U.S. war veterans - said coronavirus lockdown measures had still prevented some veterans and other potential customers from physically visiting hearing specialists.

Sales rose 42% to 3.78 billion Danish crowns ($593.7 million) between April and June, below the 4.03 billion expected by analysts in a Refinitiv poll.

The company, which is best known for its hearing aids but also produces Jabra headsets and earbuds used mainly in offices and call centres, kept its full-year guidance unchanged, forecasting organic revenue growth above 25% in both its audio and hearing aid divisions.

Its shares, however, were down 7.9% at 0730 GMT, the second-worst performer on the pan-European STOXX 600 index.

They had risen 11% this year by Wednesday’s close.

“It looks like GN is losing market share, and we do not see any significant improvement in the second half of the year, as restrictions for veterans have been reimposed,” Jyske Bank said in a note.

GN, which started in 1869 as a telegraph firm, competes with Sonova and Demant in the hearing aid business and with Plantronics in the audio business.

Although coronavirus lockdown measures “continued to have significant impact” on the hearing aid business, “we continue to believe that the fundamentals of the hearing aid market are intact,” GN said in a statement. ($1 = 6.3669 Danish crowns) (Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Susan Fenton)