UPDATE 2-Dental supplier Straumann raises sales forecast, shares surge

(Adds CEO quotes, share move, background)

April 29 (Reuters) - Swiss dental implant maker Straumann on Thursday raised its full-year organic revenue growth guidance as it reported stronger-than-expected first-quarter results, sending its shares up nearly 9%.

Straumann, which develops and supplies dental implants, prosthetics, biomaterials and digital solutions such as in-mouth scanners, said it now expects 2021 organic revenue growth in the mid-to-high twenties percentage range, compared with its earlier forecast for high-single-digit growth. The group also reported double-digit organic revenue growth across all its regions in the first quarter, as it sees customers prioritising dental health spending, with Asia-Pacific returning to pre-pandemic growth levels.

“China and Asia-Pacific as a whole is still widely under-penetrated when it comes to the implant and clear aligner market,” Chief Executive Guillaume Daniellot said in an interview with Reuters. Clear aligners are less visible alternatives to braces.

He expects China to keep driving strong growth in the future due to that market being particularly receptive to new technologies. The company is localising production in its main markets to avoid potential supply chain disruptions like the ones experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Daniellot said, noting Straumann already had manufacturing facilities in Europe, Latin and North America, but not in China or Asia-Pacific.

The Basel-based group, which generates 20% of its revenues in the broader Asia-Pacific region, said earlier this year it plans to invest up to 1.2 billion Chinese yuan ($185.42 million) by 2029 to build its first manufacturing, education and innovation centre in China.

The CEO also said the group is planning to expand its manufacturing capacities, especially for orthodontics, and invest into its digital technology. “Digital interaction has taken a lot of importance in the past months because of COVID-19 and we believe it will stay,” he said.

The shares were up 8.9% at 0830 GMT, topping the Swiss mid-cap index. ($1 = 0.9093 Swiss francs) ($1 = 6.4718 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Veronica Snoj in Gdansk; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Subhranshu Sahu and Jane Merriman)