Dental Tribune Europe

Dental giants inch towards recovery

After a challenging year, the largest dental companies all reported sales growth for the fourth quarter of 2020—sales related to the pandemic, such as personal protective equipment and disinfectants, were particularly strong. (Image: Sereja.Filippov/Shutterstock)
By Jeremy Booth, Dental Tribune International
March 04, 2021

LEIPZIG, Germany: The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has already proved to be the greatest challenge that dental manufacturers have faced. The oral health giants Dentsply Sirona, Henry Schein and Envista Holdings all showed strong signs of recovery in their fourth-quarter results for 2020. It seems that the Straumann Group is not the only major market competitor to have seen growth in dental sales return late last year.

For Dentsply Sirona, net sales for the fourth quarter were US$1.08 billion (€894.4 million), and this represented a 2.6% decline on the comparable (pre-pandemic) quarter in 2019. Net sales of dental consumables increased by 1.6% to US$449.00 million, and net sales of US$633.0 million for its dental technology and equipment business represented a decrease of 5.4%.

Jorge Gomez, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Dentsply Sirona, said during an earnings conference call that the company had sold more dental consumables in Europe and the US during the fourth quarter, but that these gains were offset by declines in other geographies. Gomez said that the year-over-year decrease in sales of dental technology and equipment for the three-month period had been expected and that it represented a sequential improvement compared with the third quarter of 2020.

Total US sales for the North Carolina-based company for the fourth quarter were down by 8.7%, those in Europe were up by 3.0%, and total sales for the other geographies were down 2.8%. “The South American market continues to experience COVID-related declines, especially in Brazil,” Gomez noted.

“[There’s] still uncertainty around how the pandemic will impact 2021”
– Donald Casey, CEO, Dentsply Sirona

CEO Donald Casey indicated during the call that clear aligners would play a strong role in the company’s future performance. Speaking about Dentsply Sirona’s acquisition of the direct-to-consumer clear aligner company Byte in December, Casey commented: “The acquisition gives us significant scale in the critical clear aligner market as well as important new capabilities. These capabilities include the ability to communicate directly with patients. We believe it will be important for Dentsply Sirona to help generate patient traffic for dentists across multiple procedures in the future.”

According to its financial outlook for 2021, the company expects net sales of US$4.0 billion to US$4.3 billion, which would represent an increase of around 20%–30% compared with its full-year 2020 result. “[There’s] still uncertainty around how the pandemic will impact 2021, but we feel, absent a major setback, the dental market will improve throughout the year,” Casey added.

Henry Schein result boosted by PPE sales

Dental sales at Henry Schein in the fourth quarter of 2020 reached US$1.8 billion—a 7.2% increase on the corresponding (pre-pandemic) period in 2019. Half of the company’s growth in internal sales of dental consumable merchandise for the quarter was attributable to the pandemic. Global sales of dental merchandise increased by 10% during the period, or by 5% if sales of personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19-related products are excluded. In North America, sales of dental consumables increased by 5.3%, or by 0.4% excluding PPE and COVID-19-related products. Outside of North America, international sales of dental consumables increased by 16.7%, or by 11.4% excluding PPE and other pandemic-related merchandise. PPE and COVID-19-related sales include thermometers and consumables such as testing kits.

Stanley M. Bergman, chairman of the board and CEO of Henry Schein, commented that global dental sales had grown strongly in the fourth quarter. Bergman said in a press release: “High-acuity procedures, including dental specialties and restorative procedures, also contributed to year-over-year sales growth. The 5.0% quarterly growth rate for global dental consumable sales is among the highest recorded by Henry Schein since 2017.” He added that patient numbers at dental practices had remained stable compared with the previous quarter, even in countries where strict health measures remained in place, with the exception of the UK.

Henry Schein’s medical business has been performing well during the pandemic. For the fourth quarter, medical sales increased by 48.5% year over year to reach US$1.2 billion.

Last year was a roller coaster ride for the global supplier. Dental sales at the company fell by more than 40.0% in the second quarter and increased by 6.7% in the third quarter, when sales of PPE and other COVID-19-related products to dental professionals increased by 130.0%.

Bergman noted in a call with analysts: “[We] believe that PPE and COVID-related products will continue to be strong going forward. It will represent really the new standard of care for practitioners.”

Envista Holdings praises stable patient volumes

At Envista, sales in the fourth quarter of last year increased by 1.6% year over year to reach US$732.3 million. Howard Yu, Envista’s senior vice president and chief financial officer, explained that the dental business environment had been reinvigorated towards the end of 2020 after a challenging six months. He said: “Globally, most dentist offices remained open with stable patient volumes relative to the third quarter despite some government-imposed lockdowns and an increase in prevalence of COVID-19. Our consumables business led the way with mid-single-digit growth driven by pent-up demand, new procedure volumes and strong performance in our infection prevention business.”

Yu commented that sales in developed dental markets had increased in the last three months of 2020. Sales in North America grew at a low single-digit rate, those in Europe grew at a mid-single-digit rate, and sales in Japan grew at a double-digit rate. Dental sales in China grew by more than 20% during the period.

“Globally, most dentist offices remained open with stable patient volumes” – Howard Yu, CFO, Envista Holdings

According to Amir Aghdaei, president and CEO of Envista, the driving factors behind the increase in sales were the company’s infection prevention business, the N1 dental implant system and the Spark clear aligner system. Aghdaei told investors that Envista’s infection prevention business grew by more than 40% during the fourth quarter and that he believes that this infection prevention will remain a high-growth part of the company’s portfolio beyond the pandemic. The company currently markets its disinfectant products to both dental and medical offices, and Aghdaei noted that the company has a less than 10% share of the latter.

The company shipped disinfectant products to dental and medical practices in more than 80 countries during the fourth quarter, including more than 30 million units of disinfectant wipes and liquids.

Orthodontics and dental implants have been identified as growth segments during the pandemic, including recently by the Straumann Group. Aghdaei said that the Spark clear aligner system was being actively prescribed by more than 1,000 orthodontists by the end of the fourth quarter. During the period, the company introduced the new implant surfaces TiUltra and Xeal. These surfaces are also available for the company’s N1 implant system, which was introduced to more than 1,000 dentists in Europe in 2020 and adopted by more than 300.

Envista owns the dental companies Ormco Corp., KaVo Kerr, Nobel Biocare and Implant Direct Sybron International and the disinfectant products manufacturer Metrex Research.

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