The dental unit for Patterson Cos. saw its first year-over-year sales growth in two years, leading to a third quarter that met Wall Street expectations.

The dental unit is the smaller of Patterson's businesses. The animal health unit also showed growth, as it has for several quarters.

"We are pleased with our performance during the third quarter. We delivered the third consecutive quarter of year-over-year revenue growth as well as continued, sequential operating margin improvement," said Mark Walchirk, president and chief executive of Patterson, in a statement. "We continued to execute against our strategic priorities, which resulted in dental segment revenue growth and solid performance in our animal health segment."

While the dental unit's overall revenue growth was less than 1 percent, the increase was driven by a 6 percent jump in dental equipment sales, a key growth area for Walchirk.

Overall, third-quarter revenue rose 1.6 percent to $1.4 billion. The Mendota Heights-based company saw earnings of $31.2 million, or 33 cents a share, in the quarter ended Jan. 26. The income was down 71 percent from the same period last year.

However, adjusted for one-time events that included a benefit last year of $77.3 million because of federal tax reform, earnings were 38 cents a share and met analysts' expectations.

The animal health unit generated $807.5 million in revenue, up 1.6 percent from last year. Dental unit revenue was $580 million.

Patterson also adjusted its earnings expectations for the remainder of the year. It now expects to make between 89 and 94 cents per share, with adjusted earnings in the range of $1.40 to $1.45 a share.

Shares of Patterson closed Thursday at $22.55, up 19 cents. Over the last 52 weeks shares have traded between $18.94 and $26.60 per share.