Swiss dental implant maker Nobel Biocare beat forecasts with a 16 percent rise in second-quarter profit thanks to cost-cutting, raising hopes that the worst of the economic downturn was behind the group.

However, the world's largest maker of dental implants said on Wednesday it could still not give any guidance for the full year due to a high degree of uncertainty during the global recession.

Nobel Biocare's shares were up 6.1 percent at 28.12 Swiss francs in early trading, outperforming a slightly firmer DJ Stoxx European healthcare and a 0.9 percent rise for its main rival, Swiss peer Straumann.

Nobel Biocare's net profit rose 16 percent from a year ago to 28.2 million euros and was 34 million euros before restructuring charges, ahead of analysts' average forecast of 24 million euros.

Profitability has been strengthened in a difficult environment, analysts at bank Wegelin said in a note. The loss in market share cannot be denied, but Nobel seems to be over the worst in terms of revenue and margins.

Nobel has lost market share to Straumann in the recession due to its stronger focus on more costly larger-case treatments.

In addition, Nobel Biocare has been struggling to overcome management and reputation issues in key markets such as Germany.

Nobel Biocare chief executive Domenico Scala told journalists he saw a stabilisation of the market ahead.

In the first half of 2009, the global market for dental implants shrank between 10 and 12 percent, the group said.

Straumann reported a 16 percent drop in first-half profit on Tuesday, but also beat forecasts and said it was confident of gaining share in a shrinking market.

Nobel Biocare's sales fell to 153.5 million euros ($217.4 million) in the second quarter. Revenue was down 11 percent in the first half when adjusted for currency swings.

Nobel Biocare shares had risen 24 percent this year to Tuesday's close, trading at 18.6 times 2010 forecast earnings, a 7 percent discount versus Straumann's multiple of 20.

($1=.7059 Euro)

(Reporting by Sven Egenter, editing by Will Waterman)