24 Aug 2012

Fisher and Paykel Healthcare picks slight profit rise

8:00 am on 24 August 2012

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare is forecasting its profit to rise slightly to between $65 and $69 million, but says it can't guarantee it will turn around its flagging share price.

The company says the year has started well due to sales growth in its obstructive sleep apnoea products and respiratory and acute care products.

But shareholders at the annual meeting in Auckland on Wednesday voiced frustration with the share price, which has fallen 23% in the last year and is one of the NZX50's worst performers.

Chief executive Mike Daniell says he hopes the sharemarket will respond positively to its update on growth prospects.

With 99% of earnings in currencies other than the New Zealand dollar, he says, the company is doing everything it can to address the unfavourable exchange rate - for instance, by doing more manufacturing in Mexico and changing sales methods.

"We're moving more and more of our sales to direct sales around the world and then our selling costs are in the same currency that we're selling in and we're actually moving a lot of our purchasing to more local currencies and away from the New Zealand dollar as well."

Mr Daniell says the company will benefit from changes to the US healthcare system, where a new law is likely to extend the availability of healthcare by bringing in medical insurance for the 40 million Americans who currently don't have it.

Mr Daniell says there's a downside - the US is looking to pay for that by putting a 2.3% excise tax on medical devices - but on the whole Fisher & Paykel Healthcare sees the change as a net positive.

The company's share price rose 8c or 4% to $2.04 on Wednesday.