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Merilee RainesGood morning, and thank you for joining our call today. As we reported in our press release this morning, our Q2 revenues were $335.6 million yielding organic growth of 7%; and diluted earnings per share were $0.91, a year-to-year increase of 10%. Revenues were slightly below our thinking at the time of our April call, the result of a few factors; first, unfavorable changes in currency rates relative to our thinking in April resulted in about $2 million of lower revenues. Post currency input, somewhat lower growth in reference lab revenues currently offset by stronger growth in instrument consumables revenue in North America, were the primary factors netting to organic revenue growth that was about 1% lower than our expectations. Earnings per share for Q2 were in line with our thinking in April. The impact of lower revenues was offset by lower-than-anticipated spending on operating expenses, in part due to discretionary spend and in part due to timing. While actual currency rates versus expectation yielded a modest unfavorable impact on revenues for the quarter the impact to EPS was immaterial. As a backdrop to the discussion of our Q2 performance in our companion animal group, the following is what we are seeing in the US veterinary market based on a subset of roughly 500 practices using our Cornerstone Practice Management System. In Q2, patient visits grew by 4% and practice revenues grew by just over 5.5%. While both metrics continue to be favorable to the growth rates seen throughout 2011 when patient visits were flat and practice revenues were up 2.5%, they were slightly lower than the Q1 metrics of 5% patient visit growth and 7% practice revenue growth. Further, the growth rates for both metrics decelerated somewhat over the course of Q2. We believe this trend indicates that some of the strong pickup in Q1 was due to the mild weather experienced over much of the US.
In Europe overall we saw stabilization of organic growth for our companion animal group segment at 5%. This is consistent with the growth in Q1 which had seen a step down from 8% in Q4 2011. As was the case last quarter, the growth rates for this region varied by product and service line and by country. All in all these data reaffirm our thinking that given the continued challenges to consumer confidence in both the US and Europe, we will see only a modest benefit from the macro environment to volume growth in 2012 over 2011, and the pace of improvement may not necessarily be steady.Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com