Results for the second quarter won't exactly have investors in Lincare (NASDAQ:LNCR) breathing easily, but that doesn't mean the company itself won't be breathing fresh air again in the future.

As expected, government reimbursement cuts wreaked their damage on this provider of home health care -- largely respiratory care. Sales were flat compared with the year-ago quarter, while net income slid about 25%. A 48% year-over-year rise in the cost of goods and services offered was a big culprit in the slide.

Management noted that reimbursement cuts took away nearly $50 million of revenue, and internal revenue growth, all other things being the same, would have been 11% for the quarter, with another 5% of growth coming from acquired business. That's fine, but the reality is that those cuts did happen, and that gives such "if-then" analysis limited value.

All the same, free cash flow performance for the quarter was pretty decent. First-half operating cash flow declined by about 11%, while free cash flow (excluding acquisitions) dipped by about 15%. I realize that those don't sound like fantastic numbers, but given the magnitude of the change to the business caused by those cuts, I'd say they weren't bad.

Buying and/or holding Lincare stock will be an exercise in patience and confidence in the management team. As I've said before, this industry has been through reimbursement cuts before and will go through them again, that's just the way it is. In the meantime, Lincare will do what it's always done before -- find ways to strip expenses out of the existing business, try to add value-added services that it can get paid for, and find new acquisitions that can be run better by Lincare and can add incremental profitability.

Lincare shares seem to be a pretty decent buy relative to rational future growth expectations. Of course, if Apria Healthcare (NYSE:AHG) goes through with a plan to sell itself, that could offer an interesting insight into valuation for the sector. Given that this company that has been here before and survived, I don't believe this quarter is a sign of what's to come over the long haul for its investors.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).