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Patterson Posts Below Analysts' Expectations

Patterson says profit fell -- and blames, big shock, the economy.
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Patterson Companies

(PDCO) - Get Patterson Companies Incorporated Report

CEO James W. Wiltz had a familiar message for anyone anticipating the company's fourth quarter earnings this morning: blame the economy. But it appears investors didn't like the message, the earnings or the downtrodden guidance. Following an announced 15% quarterly drop in profit this morning, the dental and veterinary equipment supplier's share price fell off nearly 11% by closing today.

"Our fourth-quarter operating results were below our expectations," Wiltz said in a release, "as we experienced reduced customer demand for the capital equipment offerings at each of our three businesses."

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The company reported net income of $54 million, or 46 cents per share. That was well short of average analysts' expectations of 50 cents, according to Thomson Reuters. Patterson also showed sales of $779.9 million, which was a slight upnote from the previous year.

Patterson, though, noted weaker sales in their dental-supply segment. Wiltz said in the release that as people's wallets took a hit, so did discretionary spending. Certain consumable dental services went out the window too, ultimately aiding in an overall 5% drop in Patterson's largest business.

Wiltz went on to say in the release that the bad economy will hurt Patterson "for at least several more quarters," while bracing investors for earnings to land somewhere between $1.70 to $1.80 for fiscal 2010.

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