(By Balachander) Patterson Companies Inc. (NASDAQ:PDCO), which supplies dental and veterinary products, reported lower quarterly earnings as gross margin contraction offset growth in sales.
Net earnings were $47.54 million or $0.45 per share for the first quarter, compared with $48.61 million or $0.42 per share in the corresponding period of last year, the St.Paul, Minnesota-based company said.
Net sales grew 5 percent to $889.2 million.
Wall Street analysts, on average, expected the company to earn $0.49 per share on sales growth of 4.30 percent.
Gross margin contracted to 32.1 percent from 32.8 percent.
The company cited the fall in net earnings to the absorption of $3.2 million of incremental interest expense related to its debt issuance in the third quarter of fiscal 2012.
Within Patterson Dental, Patterson said sales of consumable supplies were below forecasted levels. The company reported strong sales growth of CEREC products and low double-digit sales growth of basic equipment.
Looking ahead for fiscal 2013, the company continues to expect earnings per share in the range of $2.10 to $2.16, in line with consensus estimate of $2.14 per share.
PDCO shares, which have been trading in the 52-week range of $26.19 to $36.42, ended Wednesday's regular trading at $35.91.