* Q3 EPS 45 cents beats Street by 1 cent
* Sales rise 4 pct to $811 mln
* Solid dental-equipment sales buck low expectations
* Shares jump as much as 13 pct (Recasts; adds background, details, analysts' comments; updates stock movement)
By Aradhana Aravindan
BANGALORE, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Dental supplies and equipment distributor Patterson Cos Inc's (PDCO.O) quarterly profit edged past market estimates, restoring confidence in investors who were expecting a weak performance in the face of tighter hospital spending.
The company's stable performance in the quarter was reassuring, William Blair analyst John Kreger said. But he maintained a "market perform" rating on Patterson's stock on concerns related to equipment-buying trends over the next few quarters.
Many hospitals and doctors are curtailing their medical-equipment purchases to preserve cash amid tough credit conditions.
But Patterson's sales of dental equipment and software rose 5 percent for the third quarter ended Jan. 24.
The company reported third-quarter net income of $52.8 million, including an incremental interest expense of $4.1 million, compared with net income of $60.4 million a year earlier.
Patterson, which competes with Henry Schein Inc (HSIC.O), also trimmed its earnings outlook for the 2009 financial year. However, the lower end of the outlook range meets current market estimates.
The company expects to earn $1.72 a share to $1.74 a share in the current financial year, down from its earlier estimate of $1.73 a share to $1.77 a share.
The cut to the top-end of the forecast suggests that the bit of upside previously expected in the final quarter of the year is unlikely to materialize, Robert W. Baird analyst Jeff Johnson said in a note to clients.
Shares of the St. Paul, Minnesota-based company leapt to a high of $20.98, before paring some gains to trade up $1.71 at $20.22 Thursday morning on Nasdaq.
For related alerts, double-click [ID:nWNAB4393] (Additional reporting by Anand Basu; Editing by Pratish Narayanan)