Patterson misses the mark in 1Q earnings

August 30, 2018

Patterson Cos. President and CEO Mark Walchirk bluntly assessed the company’s first quarter results: They did not meet expectations.

The Mendota Heights-based distributor of dental and animal health supplies lost $4.5 million, or 5 cents per share, after earning $30.8 million, or 33 cents per share in the first quarter last year.

The company had to record a $28.3 million reserve for an anticipated legal settlement. Accounting for that reserve and deal amortization costs, adjusted earnings were 26 cents per share, compared with 44 cents a year ago and the 34 cents analysts were expecting.

For the period ended July 28, the company increased revenue 2.5 percent to $1.3 billion. Internal sales adjusted for currency exchanges and product selling relationships increased by 2.3 percent.

But Walchirk was more concerned with earnings and the company’s gross margin declines.

“While our ongoing initiatives to improve the customer experience and enhance sales execution helped drive improved top line performance, these results were offset by competitive pricing pressures, which negatively impacted our margins,” Walchirk said in the earnings release.

Patterson Cos. operates two business segments. The Animal Health segment, which accounted for about 62 percent of total revenue in the quarter, was a bight spot with internal sales increasing 6 percent to $825.2 million.

Sales of the Dental segment continued to struggle at $506.1 million, down 2.7 percent compared with last year.

In February, the Federal Trade Commission said the nation’s three largest dental distributors, which includes Patterson Dental, were illegally restraining trade particularly among small and solo dental practices.

Patterson hasn’t entered into a definitive court approved settlement in the case but began discussions in August and made the $28.3 million reserve to cover potential claims.

Shares of Patterson were trading at $23.37, down 1.5 percent in Thursday morning trading. Year-to-date shares are down 35.3 percent, and over the past 52 weeks shares have traded in the range of $20.23 to $40.90 per share.

Patrick Kennedy • 612-673-7926

Update hourly