Bose could disrupt hearing aid market
Shares in the world’s largest hearing aid makers plunged on Monday amid concern that loudspeaker maker Bose Corp.’s entry into the market will put pressure on prices.
GN Store Nord A/S and William Demant Holding A/S, both based in Denmark, fell around 13 percent each, while Sonova Holding AG of Switzerland dropped as much as 10 percent.
“Bose is a big name in the loud speaker segment and some may fear that this news can have an impact on the other companies in the industry,” Janne Vincent Kjaer, an analyst at Jyske Bank, said by phone.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced late Friday after European markets had closed that Bose will be allowed to market as hearing aids a device that doesn’t require a prescription from a health care professional. The FDA is working on regulations for a new over-the-counter category due in 2020 and consumer-electronic players with “significant marketing muscle” could have an impact on the market if they enter, Lisa Bedell Clive, an analyst at Bernstein, said in a note.
UBS analysts said OTC hearing aids are unlikely to have a “meaningful impact” on the listed device makers, according to a note. However, “re-emerging investor concerns over OTC aids could help continue to drive the recent under-performance in the names.”
The news follows another industry shake-up earlier this year when closely held Widex A/S of Denmark agreed to buy Sivantos Pte. Ltd. to form what may become a new global No. 1 with a market share above 25 percent. Sonova and WDH each have about 25 percent of the $5.5 billion global wholesale hearing-aid market. GN and closely held Starkey Laboratories Inc. complete the world’s top 5.
“It’s been a long time since new players have entered the industry,” Per Hansen, an investment economist at Nordnet, said in a note. “The existing companies have therefore had the playing field on their own for some time without unwanted’ price competition.”