The key for Patterson Cos., as it starts the second year of a three-year turnaround plan, will be getting its top and bottom lines moving in the same direction at the same time.
"We drove improved profitability in both of our business segments through operational improvements, effective mix management and expense discipline," Chief Executive Mark Walchirk said.
But while earnings for the Mendota Heights-based supplier of veterinary and dental supplies increased for the second straight quarter, sales slipped to $1.3 billion, down 0.6%, and across both segments.
Analysts were expecting some top-line growth after the company had reported sales growth in each of the previous four quarters.
Patterson earned $30 million, or 32 cents per share, for its first quarter of fiscal 2020 which ended July 27.
The company had a loss of $4.5 million, of 5 cents per share in its first quarter last year.
Earnings adjusted for expenses such as amortization and restructuring costs were $25.4 million, or 27 cents per share, an increase over the $24 million, or 26 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.
Efforts to improve profitability were working, the company said, and its adjusted earnings exceeded analysts' expectations of 24 cents per share and was the second straight quarter of adjusted earnings growth.
Patterson's animal division saw sales decrease nearly 1% to $817.5 million, with difficulties in the beef and dairy market.
Its dental sales were down 1% to $501.1 million.
Shares of Patterson closed Thursday at $16.75, up 2.63% for the day. Year-to-date, Patterson's shares are down 17%.