Henry Schein

Henry Schein Credit: Handout

Henry Schein Inc., Long Island's largest publicly traded company and a global health-care distributor, will buy back up to $200 million in shares of its stock.

The Melville-based company, which supplies 775,000 medical, dental and veterinary offices and clinics worldwide, made the disclosure before trading Thursday morning.

It said the $200 million would buy about 3 percent of Henry Schein's nearly 90 million shares at its premarket Thursday price of $74.78. The stock is trading near the top of its 52-week range of $58.50 to $77.05.

This is the second time in the past year the company has made such a move, authorizing a $200 million stock repurchase plan in August; in that program, about $38 million of the authorized amount remains to be used.

Repurchase is a corporate technique intended to benefit shareholders by increasing the value of a company's remaining publicly traded stock. Henry Schein said, of its stock program announced Thursday, that purchases may be made from time to time in the open market, or through negotiated transactions.

"During the 2011 fiscal year, Henry Schein generated free cash flow of approximately $510 million," Stanley M. Bergman, chairman and chief executive of Henry Schein, said in a statement.

"Our board has determined that buying back additional shares represents an attractive investment and is an appropriate means to continue building shareholder value."

The company bills itself as the world's largest provider of health care products and services to office-based dental, medical and animal health practitioners. It has 15,000 workers and about 775,000 customers including dental laboratories, government and institutional health care clinics, and other alternate care sites. Its catalog includes 90,000 in-stock items and another 100,000 available through special order.

The company says its sales, which reached a record $8.5 billion last year, have grown at a compound rate of 18 percent since it went public in 1995.

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