Ecolab (ECL) 2020 Q4 Earnings Results

Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) history dates back to the 1920s when Merritt Osborn founded the company with a single product, called Absorbit, which was used to clean carpets in hotel rooms. Over the years, the company stepped into new areas such as food safety management and healthcare. Today, it is a leading provider of water safety, hygiene, energy products and services, as well as infection prevention solutions.

Saint Paul, Minnesota-based Ecolab on Tuesday announced its financial results for the fourth quarter. The company reported earnings of $300.3 million, or $1.04 per share for the three months ended Dec. 31, down 23 percent from 1.35 per share in the comparable period of 2019. On an adjusted basis, profit decreased 15 percent on a year-over-year basis to $1.23 per share. Ecolab attributed the drop to the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its business.

Revenue came in at $3.06 billion, translating to a decline of 5.6 percent from $3.24 billion in the year-ago quarter. If we look at the performance of key segments, revenue from the industrial business and the institutional & specialty business declined 3 percent and 22 percent, respectively. On the bright side, revenue from the healthcare & life sciences segment climbed 22 percent on a year-over-year basis, mainly driven by higher demand due to the Covid-19.

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Speaking on the results, CEO Christophe Beck said in a statement, “We had a solid business performance during the fourth quarter in the face of significant COVID-19 related end market restrictions that were more substantial and widespread than anticipated.”

However, Beck warned about the continued impact of the Covid-19 on Ecolab’s business. He stated, “As we enter 2021, we expect COVID-19 will continue to have a significant effect on the economy and our end markets, with its primary impact in the early part of the year.”

The comments apparently sent Ecolab shares down more than 3 percent in the mid-day trading Tuesday.