Waste Management 1Q profit rises 2 percent

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Waste Management Inc. said today that its first-quarter profit rose 2 percent as it benefited from higher prices in its collection and disposal business, and from higher commodity prices for an increased volume of recycled materials.

The Houston company said its net income rose to $186 million, or 39 cents per share, for the three months ended march 31 from $182 million, or 37 cents per share, a year ago. The year-ago results reflected a charge of $17 million for partially withdrawing from a pension plan.

Revenue rose 5.7 percent to $3.1 billion from $2.93 billion a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected higher earnings of 43 cents a share on lower revenue of $3.04 billion.

CEO David P. Steiner said recycling “continued to be a significant contributor to earnings.” Recycling commodity prices rose 18 percent from a year earlier, adding 3 cents per share to earnings.

Its fuel bill rose by $27 million for the quarter, but fuel surcharges offset the increase.

The company said it expects solid waste volumes to improve as the year goes on. That, plus recycling commodity prices remaining high as well as cost-cutting initiatives led it to affirm its full-year adjusted earnings guidance of $2.24 to $2.30 per share. Analysts expected earnings of $2.28 per share.

Waste Management shares fell 6 cents to $39.40 in afternoon trading.