Let’s start with those vet bills I just mentioned. Just about 30% of the spending in 2011 came from veterinarian services — a category listed separately from the medications often prescribed as a result of those services.
With that in mind, VCA Antech (WOOF) sure has a lot of promise. The company owns 600 small animal veterinary hospitals across the U.S. and Canada, boasts a nationwide clinical laboratory system and is a leader in animal diagnostic imaging.
That footprint has paid off. The stock has soared nearly 50% during the past 12 months, and has doubled the market year-to-date with 33% returns.
In the most recent quarter, VCA Antech posted record revenues and a 23% increase in operating income, and looking forward, there’s reason to think that upward trend could continue.
VCA is eager to keep expanding; it acquired MediMedia Animal Health and BrightHeart Veterinary Centers in 2011 and has an ongoing “hospital acquisition program.” Plus, the company — which has shown year-over-year sales growth in every quarter since 2009, the earliest available year for data from S&P Capital IQ — is slated to grow earnings by nearly 13% annually over next five years.