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Patterson Companies Inc. (PDCO - Analyst Report) reported first quarter fiscal 2013 adjusted earnings of 48 cents per share, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimates of 49 cents but ahead of last year's 2 cents.

Adjusted earnings include Employee Stock Ownership Plan (“ESOP”) related charges but exclude an incremental interest expense of $3.2 million associated with the company’s debt issuance in the third quarter of 2012.

In the reported quarter, profit dropped 2.2% year over year to $47.5 million (or 45 cents a share).

Revenue

Revenues for the first quarter rose 5% year over year to $889.2 million, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $883 million. The increase was led by the Patterson Dental and the Veterinary Supply businesses. However, Patterson Medical showed no signs of improvement in the reported quarter.

Segment Analysis

Revenues from the core Patterson Dental segment increased 6% year over year to $567.4 million, driven by strong CEREC sales.

Within Patterson Dental, sales of consumable and printed products inched up 1% to $310.2 million. Sales from the equipment and software offerings jumped 19% to $191.9 million, boosted by higher sales of CEREC products and basic equipment. Other services and products grew 3% year over year to $65.3 million.

Revenues from the Webster Veterinary segment grew 6.5% to $191.1 million, led by the acquisition of the American Veterinary Supply Corporation. However, sales were affected by a change in a distribution agreement related to nutritional offerings.

Revenues from the Patterson Medical segment dropped 3% to $130.7 million due to lower equipment sales. The division’s equipment franchise continues to be adversely impacted by the uncertainty related to the U.S. health care system. Despite such uncertainties, the segment is geared to utilize the worldwide growing trend of the Rehabilitation market. In addition, currency fluctuations overshadowed the contributions from Surgical Synergies.

Margins

Gross margin edged down to 32.1% in the first quarter from 32.8% a year ago. Operating margin also declined slightly to 9.3% from 9.7%.

Balance Sheet and Other

Patterson exited the quarter with cash and cash equivalent of $580.8 million. Long-term debt was higher by 38.1% at $725 million. During the quarter, Patterson repurchased roughly 1.1 million shares under its share buyback program. About 10 million shares are still available for repurchase before the authorization expires in 2016.

Guidance

For fiscal 2013, Patterson reiterated its earnings forecast in the range of $2.10 to $2.16 per share.

Patterson provides a wide range of consumables, equipment, software, and value-added services to its customers. The company competes head-to-head with Henry Schein Inc. (HSIC - Analyst Report) in the dental market.

Recently, Sirona Dental Systems, Inc. (SIRO - Snapshot Report) announced the expansion of its exclusive distribution agreement with Patterson Dental. Per the agreement, Patterson will be the exclusive U.S. distribution partner of Sirona. The alliance will boost CEREC sales and further establish Patterson as the leading distributor of dental products.

However, the company remains affected by tough macroeconomic issues in North America and the international markets. We currently have a Neutral recommendation on the stock, which carries a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold).

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