First off, let's give credit where it's due. Cardinal Health
For the company's fiscal first quarter, revenue rose 9%, operating earnings rose 3%, and earnings per share rose 6% versus the year-ago level. If you strip out a host of special items, non-recurring charges, and equity compensation expense, the numbers actually exceeded the average analyst expectation. One note of interest, though, is that both this quarter and last had a pretty significant amount of "non-recurring" charges. So one might wonder just how non-recurring they are if they happened in this year and the last.
Anyway, each of Cardinal Health's four major operating segments had positive revenue growth, with the overwhelmingly largest unit -- pharmaceutical distribution -- posting 9% top-line growth. Per-segment operating income growth is a little more complicated, though, as there are some moving parts to consider. Pharmaceutical distribution earnings were up 25% but included a sizable charge, and management expects growth for the year below its 10%-13% target.
Medical product earnings growth got a boost from a year-ago charge but still did well on its own, and the clinical technologies unit was strong for the quarter. The laggard was once again pharmaceutical technologies, where earnings fell sharply. That said, Cardinal Health's management seems to believe that it has staunched the bleeding in this area and is in position to show growth throughout this fiscal year.
With the stock having risen 18% over the past six months, I think a lot of investors have already given the company credit for its efforts to reform and improve. The stock doesn't seem overpriced, mind you, but given the accounting issues in the past, the competition from the likes of McKesson
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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).