UPDATE 2-Delays to surgery weigh on Smith+Nephew

* H1 trading profit misses market view by almost a quarter

* Demand for elective surgeries picks up in U.S., Europe

* Warns on uncertainties around coronavirus crisis

* Shares fell as much as 6.4% (Writes through, adds CEO, analyst comment, shares)

July 29 (Reuters) - Delays to hip and knee replacement surgery meant Smith+Nephew’s first half profit fell well short of analysts’ expectations, sending the medical products maker’s shares as much as 6.4% lower on Wednesday.

Hospitals around the world are struggling to accommodate patients infected by the novel coronavirus and have been delaying non-emergency surgeries. Some patients, wary of going to clinics, have cancelled appointments themselves.

However, the United States, the British company’s biggest market followed by China, and Europe, saw the decline in demand slow towards the end of the first half, with the Asian country returning to growth in the second quarter, it said.

Smith+Nephew makes orthopaedic implants and prosthetics, along with wound dressings and other surgical technologies.

Emerging markets, including China, have been key growth drivers.

“We ... were ready as lockdown restrictions eased, delivering an improving performance across the second quarter,” said Chief Executive Roland Diggelmann.

Sales on an underlying basis fell about 47% in April, 27% in May and 12% in June.

The performance so far this month had been “a bit better” than June, Diggelmann told Reuters, pointing however to lingering uncertainties.

This year has been a stark contrast for Smith+Nephew after 2019 when underlying sales grew at their best annual rate since at least 2010.

The company did not update on the financial forecast it withdrew in March, but said it was on track to deliver cost savings of $200 million in 2020.

Shares were 3% lower by 0930 GMT, taking losses to around 14% for the year versus a 25% rise in 2019.

“We suspect bears will point to worse implied underlying performance. Bulls will point to continuing recovery from the April lows,” said JP Morgan analysts, adding that outlook depended on any impact of a possible second wave. They have a “Neutral” rating on the stock.

Half-year trading profit fell to $172 million from $532 million, missing a consensus here of $225 million. Revenue fell 18.7% but the company paid an interim dividend of 14 cents, in line with the previous year.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru, Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Keith Weir