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 Patterson Companies (NASDAQ:PDCO), a supplier of dental and veterinary supplies, dipped as much as 13% earlier in the trading session today after the company reported worse-than-expected second-quarter earnings results.

So what: For the quarter, Patterson reported a 1.2% increase in year-over-year sales to $867.2 million and a profit of $0.44 per share, just slightly higher than the $0.43 reported last year. Unfortunately for shareholders, this wasn't up to par with Wall Street's expectations as analysts were expecting $895.5 million in sales and $0.49 in per-share profit. Worse yet, weak global economic conditions and lower-than-expected dental equipment sales coerced Patterson to lower its full-year EPS forecast to a range of $2.00-$2.06 versus the Street's consensus of $2.13.

Now what: OK, I have no problem admitting that I'm just the slightest bit confused. Having worked in the dental industry previously, I find it a bit odd that Sirona Dental Systems (NASDAQ: SIRO), another equipment provider, was able to crush estimates last week while Patterson came up far short this week. If I had to guess which one more accurately reflects the current state of the dental industry I'd say it's Patterson, as falling consumer spending is more inclined to result in consumers putting off optional dental work. Needless to say, there is a clear bifurcation in dental equipment suppliers that bears some watching.

Craving more input? Start by adding Patterson Companies to your free and personalized Watchlist so you can keep up on the latest news with the company.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.