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Carly Helfand/MEDILL

Fourth-quarter net income for Stericycle Inc. increased by 28.6 percent from the year-ago period.    

Growing U.S. sales help Stericycle edge earnings estimates

by Carly Helfand
Feb 02, 2012

Riding growth in U.S. sales, Stericycle Inc. reported strong fourth-quarter earnings Thursday that slightly exceeded analyst expectations.

In the quarter ended Dec. 31, net income for the Lake Forest-based medical waste disposal company, ballooned to $64.3 million, or 74 cents per diluted share, up 26.6 percent from $50 million, or 57 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period.

These numbers edged out the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg LP, who were expecting Stericycle, which serves large and small-quantity generators of prescription and hazardous waste in 11 countries, to earn 73.6 cents per diluted share.

Stericycle’s quarterly revenues were also up, increasing 13.5 percent to $446.6 million from $393.5 million in the year-ago period.

“I think it’s just a combination that the business is doing well and they’re driving the results that they set out to do, and people respond well to this,” said Al Kaschalk, an analyst for Wedbush Securities Inc.

Domestic revenue propelled Stericycle’s fourth-quarter success. In the regulated waste area, the company saw modest 9 percent growth in the small quantities area and 6 percent in large quantities for an overall domestic internal growth of 8 percent.

“At the end of the day, they’re able to grow the price increase or the type of service that they’re offering,” Kaschalk said.

Kaschalk also said Stericycle’s business generated from returns of recalled items was in line with expectations for the quarter. “That’s a little bit of a lumpy business and it’s good to see that continue for them,” he said.

For all of 2011, Stericycle earned $234.8 million, or $2.69 per diluted share, up 13 percent from $207.9 million, or $2.39 per diluted share, in 2010. Revenues climbed 16.7 percent to $1.67 billion from $1.44 billion.

Thursday, Stericycle shares rose 28 cents to close at $85.30.