CANBERRA, AAP – Global hearing implant maker Cochlear has returned to profit but has spooked investors with downbeat guidance about the year ahead.

The medical technology giant posted the promised bounce back in net profit on Friday to $326.5 million in 2020/21, from a loss of $238 million the previous financial year.

Expecting a tricky year ahead as health systems navigate the Delta variant, Cochlear has warned net profits won’t meet the longer term target of 18 per cent growth.

Guidance for 2021/22 is for a net profit of $265 million to $285 million, up as little as 12 per cent.

“A more material disruption from COVID remains a risk factor not factored into guidance,” the company said.

Cochlear shares are 7.5 per cent lower at $236.77 in mid-morning trade.

The dividend reflects stronger cashflow late last year, recovering from a plunge in demand as health systems shut down non-coronavirus surgeries at the start of the global outbreak.

Up almost 60 per cent, the full-year dividend is $2.55 a share.

Cochlear said the United States had adapted quickly to the pandemic with the market “growing well”.

Western Europe and parts of the Asia Pacific are in the earlier stages of recovery because of longer periods of COVID-19 disruptions.

The result included $90 million in one-off gains from patent litigation tax benefits and innovation fund gains.