Health care products distributor Henry Schein Inc. Tuesday reported that first quarter net income climbed 8.4 percent over the same period in the previous year to $102.1 million, driven by strength in North American dental sales.

Earnings per share at the Melville-based company rose 11.3 percent to $1.18. The prior-year net income and earnings per share numbers excluded a one-time expense of $6.2 million, or 3 cents per share, related to debt refinancing.

Schein posted first quarter net sales of $2.4 billion, a 6 percent increase versus the 2013 period. Dental sales accounted for more than half of the total, climbing 8.9 percent.

Sales by Schein's animal health unit edged up 2.4 percent to $654.5 million. Discounting currency fluctuations, animal health sales in North America fell 0.4 percent.

"The decline in North America animal health sales is largely attributed to adverse weather conditions," said chief executive Stanley Bergman.

Sales to medical practices increased 2.2 percent to $397.4 million.

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International Strategy & Investment analyst Michael Cherny pointed to the animal health unit's performance as a "relative weak spot" that was offset by strength in the dental unit.

Schein shares closed down $1.56 Tuesday at $113.62.

Schein provides health care products to office-based dental, animal health and medical practitioners.

The company affirmed financial guidance for 2014, forecasting diluted earnings per share of $5.29 to $5.39 from continuing operations.

In an interview Tuesday morning on Bloomberg TV, in which Henry Schein was called "the most important company you've never heard of," Bergman said that better quality medical care hinges on technology.

"There's been quite a nice movement toward the installation of electronic medical records in the dental and medical worlds, but not enough," Bergman said.