GN Store Nord (GN)—the parent group of ReSound, Beltone, GN Otometrics, and GN Netcom (maker of Jabra headsets)—reported strong Q4 and year-end sales with revenue growth of 14% compared to 2014 and organic growth of 6%. GN said in its year-end financial summary that the strong results are “based on relentless focus on commercialization of innovation during 2015, and provides a solid platform for growth in 2016 and beyond.”

In the fourth quarter of 2015, GN ReSound delivered 9% organic growth and EBITA of DKK 340 million (US$51.8 MM). The full-year 2015 organic growth was 8% and EBITA was DKK 995 million (US$142.6 MM).

Although the company did very well, 2015 was not an easy or unchallenging year for GN. It included a fraud case involving Beltone’s CFO leading to the resignation of Beltone’s CEO, a management change at GN Netcom involving the CEO and CFO, and highly public patent disputes that were eventually settled with William Demant Holding (WDH). However, on the technology front, ReSound remains the only company to offer what might be viewed as “pure” 2.4 GHz wireless technology—although Sonova is reportedly planning a launch in 2016 or 2017, and both WDH and Widex are said to be planning dual-radio technology.

Moreover, GN continues to hint about at least some kind of convergence/sharing between its hearing aid and multi-functional headset technologies, possibly similar to the Starkey-Bragi partnership. GN reports that it has a joint purpose across the group: Making life sound better. By combining knowledge in medical hearing instruments with professional and consumer headset competencies, GN says it is uniquely positioned to develop intelligent audio solutions that allow its users to hear more, do more, and be more than they ever thought possible.

Anders Hedegaard

Anders Hedegaard

“Throughout 2015 we saw excellent performance, with a particular strong Q4 2015 where organic growth in our hearing instrument business accelerated to 10%,” said ReSound CEO Anders Hedegaard. “We have solid momentum going into 2016, where we again expect to significantly outperform the market. The key focus in 2015 was the commercialization of our new breakthrough 4th generation of 2.4 GHz hearing aids, ReSound LiNX2. Strong commercial execution during the year helped us to capture around 50% of the global market unit growth.”

In GN’s headset division, the company reported that the first-half of 2015 saw unusually soft CC&O/UC (contact center and office/unified communications) market conditions but, as projected, a return to more normal market conditions was observed in the second half of 2015. However, it strengthened its position as the world’s leading UC supplier, delivering an organic growth in UC of 16% for the year, driven by 23% growth during each of the third and fourth quarters of the year.

According to GN, ReSound’s financial guidance for 2016 reflects continued growth of at least double the speed of the market, while GN Netcom will aim to continue to grow with double-digit growth rate in its core CC&O/UC business. Investment analysts’ responses to the report were generally bullish about the company’s prospects. At the annual general meeting to be held tomorrow (Thursday, March 10, 2016), GN’s Board of Directors will propose a dividend of DKK 161 million (US$24 MM) for 2015 equivalent to DKK 0.99 (US$0.15) per share.

Source: GN Store Nord and Hearing Review