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Henry Schein 4Q profit beats analysts' forecasts

Henry Schein chairman and chief executive Stanley Bergman

Henry Schein chairman and chief executive Stanley Bergman said the ranking among Fortune's "most admired" companies reflects an adherence to a philosophy of "enlightened self-interest." Credit: Mahala Gaylord

Henry Schein Inc., Long Island's largest public company by sales, Tuesday posted a fourth quarter gain in revenue and a double-digit rise in net income.

The Melville distributor of medical, dental and veterinary products and services reported net sales of $2.53 billion, a 4.9 percent increase compared to the year-ago period. That was in line with the consensus of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Net income was $124.3 million, up 10.5 percent versus the fourth quarter of 2012, or $1.43 per diluted share, a rise of 13.5 percent. Analysts had forecast net income of $1.39 per share.

In a research note, Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst Kevin Ellich said that sales of flu vaccines boosted sales in Henry Schein's medical business.

"Medical revenues were better than we expected due to higher sales of influenza vaccines," Ellich said. He said the company's gross margin of 27.69 percent beat Piper's estimate of 27.3 percent.

Henry Schein shares closed down 41 cents to $114.43.

"We are pleased to complete a very successful 2013 with strong fourth quarter results," Stanley M. Bergman, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. "Sales growth during the fourth quarter was solid and on plan. Importantly, we believe we gained market share in each of our four global business units and exceeded the top of our original EPS guidance range for the year."

Particular strength was shown in a 4.3 percent increase in sales of consumable dental products in North America, chief financial officer Steven Paladino said in a conference call.

The company affirmed its 2014 forecast, calling for earnings per share, excluding special items, to be $5.29 to $5.39, an increase of 7 percent to 9 percent compared to 2013.

The company, with operations or affiliates in 25 countries, said international sales rose 7.1 percent. It said it repurchased about 664,000 shares of its common stock during the fourth quarter and 3.1 million shares for the full year 2013. Those purchases were worth $73.8 million for the quarter and $300.3 million for the year.

For all of 2013, the company posted net sales of $9.6 billion, an increase of 6.9 percent compared with 2012. Net income for 2013 was $431.6 million, or $4.93 per diluted share.

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