Why VCA Antech's Shares Spiked

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of animal health-care specialist VCA Antech (NAS: WOOF) powered ahead in early trading, gaining as much as 11% before settling down to a more modest gain.

So what: The jump in VCA's shares was triggered by a solid first-quarter earnings report. For the quarter, the company's total revenue climbed 15% from a year ago, to $410 million. Wall Street analysts were looking for $408 million in sales. Animal-hospital revenue, which makes up the bulk of VCA's business, notched 17% year-over-year growth.


On the bottom line, net income of $36.3 million was up 22% from the same quarter in 2011. Much of that profit jump, however, was due to a one-time gain from an acquisition. Even after backing out that gain, though, adjusted earnings per share of $0.34 still topped the $0.33 that analysts were looking for.

Now what: The quarter seems good enough to sustain a big post-earnings pop, yet shares slid back down to a sub-3% gain by the close of trading. The waning enthusiasm could have something to do with the fact that though revenue growth was impressive and gross profit grew even faster, a big jump in corporate spending took a big bite out of profits. While that increase may not be a continuing trend, it's nonetheless the type of thing that might give investors pause.

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At the time this article was published Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and writing covered calls on VCA Antech Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.Fool contributorMatt Koppenhefferhas no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting hisCAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter,@KoppTheFool, or onFacebook. The Fool'sdisclosure policyprefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.

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