LOS ANGELES, California, February 18, 2010 - VCA Antech, Inc. (NASDAQ NM SYMBOL: WOOF), a leading animal healthcare company in the United States, today reported financial results for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2009 as follows: revenue increased 4.0% to a fourth quarter record of $315.2 million; net income decreased 1.3% to $25.4 million and diluted earnings per common share was $0.29.
The fourth quarter of 2009 included a credit adjustment of $0.01 per diluted share from cash recovered for certain costs that were previously written off in the second quarter related to the abandonment of an internally developed software project. Excluding this item from the quarter ended December 31, 2009, adjusted diluted earnings per common share was $0.28.
Results for the year ended December 31, 2009 were as follows: revenue increased 2.9% to a record of $1.31 billion; gross profit increased slightly to $343.0 million; net income decreased 1.2% to $131.4 million; and diluted earnings per common share was $1.53. The twelve month results included a charge, net of the recovery in the fourth quarter, of $2.0 million or $0.02 per diluted share related to the abandonment of an internally developed software project. Excluding this item, adjusted net income increased slightly to $133.5 million and adjusted diluted earnings per common share remained flat at $1.55.
Bob Antin, Chairman and CEO, stated, "The 2009 year presented many challenges for our organization. As with most companies, the economy negatively impacted our revenue growth rates throughout the year. While the economy continues to put pressure on us, we have seen a relative improvement in the fourth quarter, in comparison to the previous three quarters.
"Animal hospital revenue in the fourth quarter increased 3.6% to $237.2 million driven by acquisitions made in the past twelve months. The combination of lower margins at acquired animal hospitals, and a decline in our same-store margins due to a decline in revenue, has caused our animal hospital gross margin to decrease to 15.3% from 17.5%, and our operating margin to decline to 12.9% from 15.2%. Our same-store revenue declined by 2.2%, and our same-store gross profit margin declined to 15.9% from 17.8%. We acquired nine animal hospitals during the quarter with historical combined annual revenue of $23.9 million.
"Laboratory revenue in the fourth quarter increased 2.0% to $70.7 million driven predominantly by internal revenue growth of 1.4%. We improved our laboratory gross profit by 80 basis points to 43.1% and our operating margin was up slightly to 34.5%.
"We continued our integration of Sound Technologies with Eklin Medical Systems during the quarter. Sound-Eklin revenue increased 28.4% during the quarter primarily due to the addition of the Eklin business. Gross profit margin declined slightly to 34.4% due to a change in product mix and the operating margin declined from 13.4% to 6.7% due to the incremental general and administrative costs taken on with the Eklin merger that was completed at the beginning of the third quarter of this year."
2010 Financial Guidance
Our financial guidance for 2010 is as follows:
Current uncertainty in the economy and the lack of visibility regarding the timing and degree of any recovery in our business sector makes it particularly difficult to predict consumer demand for our services and makes it more likely that our actual results could differ materially from expectations. Our senior term notes are scheduled to mature in 2011, although they may be refinanced in 2010. The guidance above is based upon our current capital structure and, accordingly, does not include the effect of any debt refinancing.
Non-GAAP Financial Measures
We believe investors' understanding of our total performance is enhanced by disclosing adjusted operating income, adjusted net income and adjusted diluted earnings per common share. We define these adjusted measures as the reported amounts, adjusted to exclude certain significant items. Adjusted diluted earnings per common share is adjusted net income divided by diluted common shares outstanding.
Management uses adjusted measures because they exclude the effect of significant items that we believe are not representative of our core operations for the periods presented. As a result, these non-GAAP financial measures help to provide meaningful comparisons of our overall performance from one reporting period to another and meaningful assessments of related trends. For the three months ended December 31, 2009, we adjusted our reported amounts for the aforementioned recovery of $1.9 million, or $1.2 million after tax. For the twelve months ended December 31, 2009, we adjusted our reported amounts for the aforementioned net software write-off of $3.3 million, or $2.0 million after tax.
There is a material limitation associated with the use of these non-GAAP financial measures: our adjusted measures exclude the impact of these significant items, and as a result, our computation of adjusted diluted earnings per common share does not depict diluted earnings per common share in accordance with GAAP.
To compensate for the limitations in the non-GAAP financial measures discussed above, our disclosures provide a complete understanding of all adjustments found in non-GAAP financial measures, and we reconcile the non-GAAP financial measures to the GAAP financial measures in the attached financial schedules titled "Supplemental Operating Data."
We will discuss our company's fourth quarter 2009 financial results during a conference call today, February 18th, at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. You can access a live broadcast of the call by visiting our website at http://investor.vcaantech.com. You can also access the call by dialing (877) 293-5492. Interested parties should call at least 10 minutes prior to the start of the call to register.
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may and likely will differ materially from this forward-looking information. Our animal hospital and laboratory revenues have been materially adversely impacted by the current economic recession. We are unable to forecast the timing or degree of any economic recovery. Further, trends in the general economy may not be reflected in our business at the same time or in the same degree as in the general economy. The timing and degree of any economic recovery, and its impact on our business, are among the important factors that could cause actual results to differ from this forward-looking information. Among other factors that could cause our actual results to differ from this forward-looking information are: an increase in the level of direct costs or a failure to increase revenue at a level necessary to maintain our expected operating margins, a material adverse change in our financial condition or operations; the level of selling, general and administrative costs; the effects of our recent and future acquisitions (including Eklin Medical Systems, Inc.) and our ability to effectively manage our growth and achieve operating synergies; a decline in demand for any of our products and services; any disruption in our information technology systems or transportation networks; the effects of competition; any impairment in the carrying value of our goodwill and other intangible assets; changes in prevailing interest rates; our ability to service our debt; and general economic conditions. These and other risks are discussed in our Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2008 and our Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2009 and the reader is directed to these statements for a further discussion of important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements.
We own, operate and manage the largest networks of freestanding veterinary hospitals and veterinary-exclusive clinical laboratories in the country, and we supply diagnostic imaging equipment to the veterinary industry.
Chief Financial Officer