Patterson Cos. reported sales for its fourth quarter were down 10.5% compared to the same quarter last year as COVID-19 disruptions severely affected the last month of what was an improving fiscal year.

The company's quarter and fiscal year ended April 25, and the last month of the year saw a big portion of the company's end markets — dental offices and veterinary clinics — shut down or affected by COVID-related mandates from national and state governments.

Those shutdowns masked what ended up being a solid year for the Mendota Heights-based company.

"The strategies we executed during fiscal 2020 produced accelerating performance through the first 11 months, enabling us to exceed our goals for the year despite the impact of COVID-19," said Patterson Chief Executive Mark Walchirk, in a news release.

The company recorded a quarterly loss of $608.6 million, or $6.44 per share.

Adjusted earnings per share for the fourth quarter, though, beat analyst expectations, increasing 16% after excluding deal amortization, integration and business restructuring expenses, an investment loss and goodwill impairment.

Adjusted earnings were $41.1 million, or 43 cents per share, compared with $35 million, or 37 cents per share, in the fourth quarter last year.

Net sales for the quarter were $1.29 billion, down 10.5%. Through the end of March, though, quarterly sales were up 5%.

For fiscal-year 2020, sales were $5.49 billion, down 1.5%, while adjusted earnings per share increased 11% to $1.55.

"Beginning in late March, COVID-19 considerably disrupted our end markets, impacting our performance for the balance of the year and into the first quarter," Walchirk added.

The company indicated that business trends were improving. Walchirk told analysts that dental offices continue to reopen, and in May dental sales were down 40%, an improvement over the steeper losses in late March and April.

Patterson's shares closed Wednesday at $20.03 per share, down 1.2%. For the year Patterson's shares are now up after being down as much as 35% in early April.