Waste Management posted better-than-expected fourth quarter profit that increased 45 percent over last year's, helped by cost controls, a tax gain and a rebound in recycled commodity prices. Nevertheless, profit and revenue were down for the year. The company was hurt for most of last year by falling demand for industrial services and a weak market for recycled commodities, to which it cut costs in response. Weak natural-gas prices hurt sales at some of its waste-to-energy operations. However, in October the company said it had likely hit a bottom in the third quarter, citing stabilizing volume and predicting sequential growth for the latest period. For its fourth quarter, the company reported a profit of $315 million, or 64 cents a share, up from $218 million, or 44 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest period included a 12-cent tax benefit while the prior year had 5 cents in charges. Revenue decreased 3.3% to $3.01 billion.
CEO David Steiner said that average recycled commodity prices continued to rise during the quarter and have nearly doubled from their lows in January 2009. Revenue from its residential and commercial segments strengthened and savings from its restructuring last year exceeded its $120 million per year target. However, natural gas prices hurt electricity sales prices at some of the company's waste-to-energy operations, subtracting 3 cents from the bottom line. This week, Steiner said "as we look to 2010 we expect the rate of decline in volumes to continue to show improvement" in the first half of 2010, and volumes will be "flat to slightly positive" in the second half. For the year, the company is expecting to earn $2.09 to $2.13 per share...Read More »
Republic Services reported a $35 million profit in the fourth quarter and said it continues to save more money and pay down debt faster than expected since its merger with Allied Waste in December 2008. Fourth quarter net income of 9 cents a share compared with a loss of $131.7 million, or 55 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding costs of paying down debt and other expenses, the company's net income would have been $126 million, or 33 cents a share. Revenue rose 60 percent to $2 billion from $1.24 billion in the year-ago quarter, due to new business from Allied. Revenue for the year rose to $8 billion, which the company said would probably qualify it for inclusion in the Fortune 500 list for 2009.
Core price for the three months ended Dec 31, 2009 (assuming the merger with Allied had occurred on January 1, 2008) increased 2.5% and commodity pricing increased 0.7%. Offsetting its growth of 3.2% for the quarter were decreases of 9.7% in core volume and 2.2% in fuel charges. Residential and commercial volumes declined slightly with more significant declines in those from industrial and construction debris, which experienced mid-teen year-over-year declines, a reflection of the weak economy and to a lesser extent, weather-related issues in the fourth quarter.
Berkshire Hathaway, with its $58 billion U.S. stock portfolio, revealed in a recent regulatory filing with the SEC that it had increased its stake in Republic from 3.6 million shares to about 8.3 million shares. Berkshire is controlled by Warren Buffett who has joined billionaire buddy Bill Gates in acquiring a large stake in the company...Read More »
Since a Manhattan judge suspended arguments over New York City's e-waste program, the focus has turned to a proposal that would assign city sanitation workers to collect from e-waste weighing more than 15 pounds directly from homes or curbside. The city would then bill manufacturers for the cost of the pickups as required in an e-waste bill that became law two years ago. Manufacturers, represented by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC), have called the requirement too burdensome and sued the city last July 24 to stop the program from taking effect. They say their members cannot agree to pay those costs without knowing what they will be, and question why they are being singled out over manufacturers of other household appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines.
The requirement making manufacturers responsible for 'direct collection' of e-waste from homes is what CEA and ITIC have called 'uniquely objectionable' about New York's law. They argue that compliance with the law as written could cost as much as $200 million or more per year. That is because it forbids curbside collection which under New York City law is the exclusive domain of city sanitation workers. Last summer, the city sanitation workers' union filed a grievance with the city's labor relations board arguing that the direct-collection rule violates its collective-bargaining agreement with the city and its ban on privatizing municipal workers' jobs. A decision on the complaint has been stayed until the lawsuit is decided...Read More »
British Airways said it has signed a deal to purchase jet fuel to be produced from biomass by US-based Solena Group (Washington, DC) at a plant expected to be sited in London and operational by 2014. The plant would convert 500,000 tons of waste annually into 16 million gallons of green jet fuel that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared with burning normal jet fuel, also called kerosene. Solena employs plasma gasification to convert biomass, food and other waste materials into hydrogen (synthesis gas) and then converts the synthesis gas into liquid fuel via the Fischer-Tropsch process. BA predicts that the 16 million gallons produced would account for 2 percent of its annual consumption at London's Heathrow airport. The company aims to obtain 10 percent of all its jet fuel from renewable waste-to-fuel processes and cut net carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050...Read More »
Equipment maker Dover Corp. announced that it is consolidating three of its subsidiaries, Heil Environmental, Marathon Equipment Co. and Bayne Machine Works, into a single business unit called the Environmental Solutions Group (ESG). The group will be headquartered in Chattanooga, TN and led by Patrick Carroll as its president, effective immediately. He was previously the president of Dover's DE-STA-CO. "Formation of the new Environmental Solutions Group brings together three companies with complementary businesses, products, technology, markets and customers," said Tom Giacomini, CEO of Dover Industrial Products.
Consolidating the business units is also expected to cut costs. Last month, Dover reported an 18% drop in fourth quarter earnings largely due to decreased demand for a broad range of its products, from garbage trucks to printers, as a result of the economy. Net income fell to $99 million, or 53 cents a share, down from $120.7 million, or 65 cents, a year earlier. Revenue from continuing operations dropped 13% to $1.5 billion...Read More »
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) told officials this week that the cleanup of ash spilled into the Emory River in East Tennessee will "probably" be finished by mid-May. CEO Tom Kilgore told the utility's board members at a meeting last week that he is pleased with the progress of the river cleanup. In December 2008, about 5.4 million cubic yards (1 billion gallons) of coal ash laced with arsenic and potentially toxic substances spilled out of a holding pond at the Kingston, Tenn. TVA plant. Steve McCracken, TVA's general manager of the cleanup, told the Joint Conservation and Environment Committee that about 2.5 million cubic yards of coal ash have been removed from the river, nearly 70 percent of the ash spilled into the water. So far, he said 149 trains have transported roughly 1.4 million tons of ash away from the site to a solid waste landfill in Alabama. He said cleanup of the river is on schedule to be complete by May...Read More »
Multitrade Telogia LLC, a portfolio company of Leaf Clean Energy, has acquired a 14 MW wood waste-fired power plant in Telogia, Florida for $5.7 million from GreenHunter Renewable Power LLC, a unit of GreenHunter Energy Inc. Commenting on the purchase, GreenHunter Energy CEO Gary Evans said the company achieved a rate of return of some 60% on the asset in less than six months. "We continue to evaluate new market opportunities for acquiring existing, cash flow-producing assets within the renewable energy space that are very attractive," he added...Read More »
The City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana and its partners recently broke ground on a $12 million project to tap methane from the city-parish's north landfill for sale to nearby plants. The methane will be delivered via a 6-mile pipeline to ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge Polyolefins plant and to the Novolyte Technologies Chemical plant in nearby Zachary where it will provide an economical alternative to natural gas currently used to fire boilers at both plants. The city-parish is projected to receive royalties of $200,000 to $1 million annually over the 20-year life of the project. Moreover, ExxonMobil and Novolyte each expect to save from $200,000 to $800,000 annually on their energy costs. Sustainable Energy Solutions, a portfolio company of Highstar Capital ($5.2 billion under management), conceived the project which it will own and operate. Siemens Industry's Building Technologies Division is building the project which is expected to be operational by August 2010...Read More »
The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) reports that it now has 10 vehicles powered by methane from its landfill. The latest includes a recycling truck powered by compressed gas (CNG) that combines a Peterbilt 320 chassis with a McNeilus 4385 cab. SWACO built a "Green Energy Center" in Grove City, OH that cleans methane from the landfill to pipeline quality before compressing it for use in specially-equipped vehicles. The Green Energy Center has a full capacity of 250,000 gasoline gallon equivalents of CNG. Plans for phase two of the project call for expanding the capacity by 5 to 10 million gasoline gallon-equivalents which could be used to power local homes in place of natural gas...Read More »
Landfill Energy Systems, which develops and operates landfill gas to energy projects, has acquired Timberline Energy, a natural gas transportation company, from Mowood, LLC, a portfolio company of Tortoise Capital Resources Corp. for $11.4 million. Tortoise Capital will receive between $9 and $9.3 million depending on closing adjustments and could receive additional proceeds of up to $3.7 million based on the contingent and escrow terms contained in the agreement...Read More »
Clean Harbors, Inc. said it will announce fourth-quarter and year-end financial results during a conference call it will host on Wednesday, February 24 at 9 a.m. (EST)...Read More »
Casella Waste Systems said it will report 2010 third quarter financial results after the close of the market on Tuesday, March 2 and host a conference call on the following day at 10 a.m. (EST)...Read More »
EnergySolutions, Inc. said it will announce fourth quarter and year-end financial results after the market closes on February 24 and host a conference call the following day at 10 a.m. (EST) to discuss and answer investor questions...Read More »