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Accounting charge dents Zimmer's fourth-quarter profits

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Profits fell at Warsaw-based Zimmer Holdings Inc. as it wrote down the value of its spine unit.

But excluding that and other accounting charges, the maker of orthopedic implants saw profits rise 5 percent to $236 million, or $1.12 per share.

Those results exceeded the expectations of Wall Street analysts, who predicted profits of $1.08 per share, according to a survey by Thomson Financial Network.

Zimmer forecast 2010 profits of $4.15 to $4.35 per share. In all of 2009, its profits totaled $3.94 per share, excluding 62 cents per share in accounting charges.

Fourth-quarter sales totaled $1.11 billion, an increase of 7.5 percent over the same quarter last year. Much of that growth came from currency fluctuations. Excluding them, Zimmer’s sales rose 2.5 percent.

Reported profit for the quarter was $155.2 million, or 74 cents per share, down 7.3 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

In the fourth quarter, Zimmer took a charge of $73 million to reduce the value of its spine business, which saw its sales drop 12 percent in the quarter.

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