US Ecology, Inc. :ECOL-US: Earnings Analysis: Q2, 2017 By the Numbers : August 2, 2017

US Ecology, Inc. reports financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2017.

We analyze the earnings along side the following peers of US Ecology, Inc. – Heritage-Crystal Clean, Inc. and Waste Management, Inc. (HCCI-US and WM-US) that have also reported for this period.


  • Summary numbers: Revenues of USD 126.06 million, Net Earnings of USD 5.05 million.
  • Gross margins narrowed from 30.16% to 28.48% compared to the same period last year, operating (EBITDA) margins now 21.08% from 22.03%.
  • Year-on-year change in operating cash flow of 17.57% is about the same as the change in earnings, likely no significant movement in accruals or reserves.
  • Narrowing of operating margins contributed to decline in earnings.

The table below shows the preliminary results and recent trends for key metrics such as revenues and net income growth:

2017-06-30 2017-03-31 2016-12-31 2016-09-30 2016-06-30
Relevant Numbers (Quarterly)
Revenues (mil) 126.06 110.23 117.17 124.82 122.35
Revenue Growth (%YOY) 3.03 -2.72 -15.26 -15.89 -12.44
Earnings (mil) 5.05 5.19 7.68 10.11 8.94
Earnings Growth (%YOY) -43.51 -31.02 -0.27 2.12 318.05
Net Margin (%) 4.01 4.7 6.56 8.1 7.31
EPS 0.23 0.24 0.35 0.46 0.41
Return on Equity (%) 1.77 1.84 2.77 3.74 3.38
Return on Assets (%) 2.59 2.64 3.91 5.21 4.62

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Market Share Versus Profits

Revenues History
Earnings History

ECOL-US‘s change in revenue this period compared to the same period last year of 3.03% is almost the same as its change in earnings, and is about average among the announced results thus far in its peer group, suggesting that ECOL-US is holding onto its market share. Also, for comparison purposes, revenues changed by 14.35% and earnings by -2.62% compared to the immediate last period.

Revenues Growth Versus Earnings Growth

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Leader, Earnings Focus, Laggard, Revenues Focus

Earnings Growth Analysis

The company’s year-on-year decline in earnings was influenced by a weakening in gross margins from 30.16% to 28.48%, as well as issues with cost controls. As a result, operating margins (EBITDA margins) went from 22.03% to 21.08% in this time frame. For comparison, gross margins were 28.91% and EBITDA margins were 20.44% in the previous period.

Gross Margin Versus EBITDA Margin

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Differentiated; Low Cost, Commodity; Low Cost, Commodity; High Cost, Differentiated; High Cost

Gross Margin Trend

Companies sometimes sacrifice improvements in revenues and margins in order to extend friendlier terms to customers and vendors. Capital Cube probes for such activity by comparing the changes in gross margins with any changes in working capital. If the gross margins improved without a worsening of working capital, it is possible that the company’s performance is a result of truly delivering in the marketplace and not simply an accounting prop-up using the balance sheet.

Gross Margin History
Working Capital Days History

ECOL-US‘s decline in gross margins has not produced any significant offsetting improvement in its working capital . This leads Capital Cube to conclude that the decline in gross margins are likely from operating issues and not trade-offs with the balance sheet. Working capital days are currently 41.77 days, compared to last year’s level of 39.12 days.

Gross Margin Versus Working Capital Days

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Customer Financed, Cash Starved, Supplier Financed, Cash Rich

Cash Versus Earnings – Sustainable Performance?

It is important to examine a company�s cash versus earnings numbers to gauge whether its performance is sustainable.

ECOL-US‘s change in operating cash flow of 17.57% compared to the same period last year is about the same as its change in earnings this period. Additionally, this change in operating cash flow is about average among its peer group. This suggests that the company did not use accruals or reserves to manage earnings this period, and that, all else being equal, the earnings number is sustainable.

Operating Cash Flow Growth Versus Earnings Growth

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Cash Flow based Earnings, Likely Non-cash Earnings, Low Cash Flow Base, Likely Undeclared Earnings


The company’s decline in earnings has been influenced by the following factors: (1) Decline in operating margins (EBIT margins) from 13.97% to 12.61% and (2) one-time items that contributed to a decrease in pretax margins from 12.10% to 6.16%

EBIT Margin Versus PreTax Margin

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Operation driven Earnings, One-time Favorables, Low Earnings Base, One-time Unfavorables
EBIT Margin History
PreTax Margin History

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Company Profile

US Ecology, Inc. is a radioactive and hazardous waste services company, which provides industrial waste management and recycling services to commercial and government entities, including refineries and chemical production facilities, manufacturers, electric utilities, steel mills, medical and academic institutions and waste brokers. It operates through the Environmental Services and Field and Industrial Services segments. The Environmental Service segment provides a broad range of hazardous material management services including the transportation, recycling, treatment, and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste at company-owned landfills, wastewater, and other treatment facilities. The Field and Industrial Services segment offers packaging and collection of hazardous waste and total waste management solutions at customer sites and through its 10-day storage facilities. The company was founded in 1952 and is headquartered in Boise, ID.

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