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Patterson Cos fiscal 2nd-qtr profit slides 7 pct

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Patterson Cos. Inc.'s fiscal second quarter earnings fell 7 percent , as soft dental equipment sales affected the dental and veterinary supply maker's performance, and the company lowered its annual earnings forecast.

Shares of the St. Paul, Minn., company sank Tuesday morning after it announced the results.

Patterson said it earned $45.5 million, or 44 cents per share, in the three months that ended Oct. 27. That compares with earnings of about $49 million, or 43 cents per share, in last year's quarter, when the company had more shares outstanding.

Revenue grew 1 percent to $867.2 million.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected, on average, earnings of 48 cents per share on $895.4 million in revenue.

The company said revenue from its largest business, Patterson Dental, slipped slightly to about $549.2 million, as sales of basic dental equipment such as chairs and lighting fell below expectations. Revenue climbed slightly from Patterson Medical to $133.7 million.

The company's veterinary supply business saw sales grow 7 percent to $184.4 million.

Patterson's operating expenses also climbed 2.5 percent to $202.7 million in the fiscal second quarter, and it said it absorbed a $3 million expense in the quarter tied to a debt issuance that took place in the current quarter.

CEO Scott P. Anderson said in a statement the company was not satisfied with its operating results, "and we are committed to strengthening Patterson's long-term performance."

Patterson now expects fiscal 2013 earnings to range between $2 and $2.06 per share, down from its previous forecast for $2.10 to $2.16 per share.

Analysts forecast, on average, earnings of $2.12 per share.

Company shares dropped nearly 9 percent, or $3.21, to $32.81 in morning trading. The stock ended Monday's session up 22 percent for the year, and has traded between $27.48 and $36.42 in the past 52 weeks.