Heard the news? Cochlear’s results didn’t thrill the market.THE headline 68 per cent slump in profit was a blaring advertisement of how challenging the year had been for Cochlear.
Not surprisingly, the $3.59 billion hearing implant maker was keen to focus on the future, rather than the surprise recall of a key implant that resulted in a 5 per cent loss of market share and a $101.3 million write-down.
”I think that where I’m upbeat – and the result is a disappointing result, because you don’t want to do $56 million [profit] – but where the result is a very, very good result is what it says about the future,” chief executive Chris Roberts, who received a pay cut, said yesterday.
”And life’s all about the future. What this result says is that we were able to maintain our strategy, investing in this market, investing in research and development et cetera. We didn’t have to go back and shut down projects and lay people off.
”We don’t want to have problems like this, but I think we’ve dealt with it in a credible way.”
The result did not meet analysts’ expectations, leading to a $3.40 (5.1 per cent) decline in Cochlear’s share price. The shares closed at $63. Revenue for the year to June 30 was down 4 per cent to $779 million and implant unit sales fell 6 per cent on 23,087, although there was a marked improvement in the second half.
Goldman Sachs described the announcement as ”OK overall – noting too exciting”.
After a long dispute with the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, Dr Roberts lashed the Fair Work Act, saying Labor’s industrial relations laws were ”never about” improving productivity. Instead, he said they were a reward for the union movement’s successful campaign against the Howard government’s WorkChoices legislation.
”The problem for me is that … reregulating the labour market was put in the context of collective bargaining driving productivity, and that is intellectually dishonest to suggest that. I think it would have been far more honest to say, look, providing a workplace that’s much more pro-union is about the political arm of the party paying back the industrial arm of the party for getting them elected.”
Fair Work Australia recently found Cochlear had not engaged in a ”course of conduct which offends the good faith bargaining requirements”, but erred in not allowing the union access to the company’s lunchroom. The parties are now in talks.
”The company has fought hard and has taken every procedural point. However, unfortunately, that appears to be a reflection of the adversarial nature of the relationship between the parties,” the industrial umpire said.
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