US Ecology Inc Valuation – Initial Coverage $ECOL

Benjamin Graham taught that Intelligent Investors must do a thorough fundamental analysis of investment opportunities to determine their intrinsic value and inherent risk.  This is best done by utilizing a systematic approach to analysis that will provide investors with a sense of how a specific company compares to another company or by reviewing the 10 Stocks for Using A Benjamin Graham Value Investing Strategy – March 2017.  By using the ModernGraham method one can review a company’s historical accomplishments and determine an intrinsic value that can be compared across industries.  What follows is a stock analysis showing a specific look at how US Ecology Inc (ECOL) fares in the ModernGraham valuation model.

Company Profile (obtained from Google Finance): US Ecology, Inc. is a provider of environmental services to commercial and government entities. The Company offers treatment, disposal and recycling of hazardous, non-hazardous and radioactive waste, as well as a range of field and industrial services. The Company operates in two business segments: Environmental Services, and Field & Industrial Services. Its Environmental Services segment provides a range of hazardous material management services, including transportation, recycling, treatment and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste at Company-owned landfill, wastewater and other treatment facilities. The Company’s Field & Industrial Services segment provides packaging and collection of hazardous waste and total waste management solutions at customer sites and through its transfer facilities. Its services include on-site management, waste characterization, transportation and disposal of non-hazardous and hazardous waste.

ECOL Chart

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Downloadable PDF version of this valuation:

ModernGraham Valuation of ECOL – August 2017

Stage 1: Is this company suitable for the Defensive Investor or the Enterprising Investor?

What kind of Intelligent Investor are you?

Defensive Investor; must pass 6 out of the following 7 tests.
1. Adequate Size of the Enterprise Market Cap > $2Bil $1,044,508,956 Fail
2. Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition Current Ratio > 2 1.91 Fail
3. Earnings Stability Positive EPS for 10 years prior Pass
4. Dividend Record Dividend Payments for 10 years prior Pass
5. Earnings Growth Increase of 33% in EPS in past 10 years using 3 year averages at beginning and end 68.94% Pass
6. Moderate PEmg Ratio PEmg < 20 30.37 Fail
7. Moderate Price to Assets PB Ratio < 2.5 OR PB*PEmg < 50 3.65 Fail
Enterprising Investor; must pass 4 out of the following 5 tests, or be suitable for the Defensive Investor.
1. Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition Current Ratio > 1.5 1.91 Pass
2. Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition Debt to NCA < 1.1 4.60 Fail
3. Earnings Stability Positive EPS for 5 years prior Pass
4. Dividend Record Currently Pays Dividend Pass
5. Earnings Growth EPSmg greater than 5 years ago Pass

Stage 2: Determination of Intrinsic Value

EPSmg $1.58
MG Growth Estimate 3.29%
MG Value $23.75
Opinion Overvalued
MG Grade C
MG Value based on 3% Growth $22.84
MG Value based on 0% Growth $13.39
Market Implied Growth Rate 10.94%
Current Price $47.85
% of Intrinsic Value 201.44%

US Ecology Inc is suitable for the Enterprising Investor but not the more conservative Defensive Investor.  The Defensive Investor is concerned with the  small size, low current ratio, high PEmg and PB ratios. The Enterprising Investor is only concerned with the level of debt relative to the net current assets.  As a result, all Enterprising Investors following the ModernGraham approach should feel comfortable proceeding with the analysis.

As for a valuation, the company appears to be Overvalued after growing its EPSmg (normalized earnings) from $1.29 in 2013 to an estimated $1.58 for 2017.  This level of demonstrated earnings growth does not support the market’s implied estimate of 10.94% annual earnings growth over the next 7-10 years.  As a result, the ModernGraham valuation model, based on the Benjamin Graham value investing formula, returns an estimate of intrinsic value below the price.

At the time of valuation, further research into US Ecology Inc revealed the company was trading above its Graham Number of $22.25.  The company pays a dividend of $0.72 per share, for a yield of 1.5%  Its PEmg (price over earnings per share – ModernGraham) was 30.37, which was below the industry average of 65.92, which by some methods of valuation makes it one of the most undervalued stocks in its industry.  Finally, the company was trading above its Net Current Asset Value (NCAV) of $-17.18.

US Ecology Inc receives an average overall rating in the ModernGraham grading system, scoring a C.

Stage 3: Information for Further Research

Net Current Asset Value (NCAV) -$17.18
Graham Number $22.25
PEmg 30.37
Current Ratio 1.91
PB Ratio 3.65
Current Dividend $0.72
Dividend Yield 1.50%
Number of Consecutive Years of Dividend Growth 0


Useful Links:

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Most Recent Balance Sheet Figures

Balance Sheet Information 6/1/2017
Total Current Assets $126,127,000
Total Current Liabilities $65,897,000
Long-Term Debt $277,000,000
Total Assets $789,446,000
Intangible Assets $554,649,000
Total Liabilities $502,297,000
Shares Outstanding (Diluted Average) 21,890,000

Earnings Per Share History

EPS History
Next Fiscal Year Estimate $1.71
Dec2016 $1.57
Dec2015 $1.18
Dec2014 $1.77
Dec2013 $1.72
Dec2012 $1.40
Dec2011 $1.01
Dec2010 $0.69
Dec2009 $0.77
Dec2008 $1.18
Dec2007 $1.06
Dec2006 $0.87
Dec2005 $0.86
Dec2004 $1.32
Dec2003 -$0.52
Dec2002 $1.15
Dec2001 $0.03
Dec2000 $0.26
Dec1999 $0.27
Dec1998 $0.03
Dec1997 -$0.17

Earnings Per Share – ModernGraham History

EPSmg History
Next Fiscal Year Estimate $1.58
Dec2016 $1.51
Dec2015 $1.46
Dec2014 $1.51
Dec2013 $1.29
Dec2012 $1.06
Dec2011 $0.90
Dec2010 $0.87
Dec2009 $0.96
Dec2008 $1.05
Dec2007 $0.90
Dec2006 $0.79
Dec2005 $0.69
Dec2004 $0.55
Dec2003 $0.19
Dec2002 $0.48
Dec2001 $0.13

Recommended Reading:

Other ModernGraham posts about the company

None.  This is the first time ModernGraham has covered the company.

Other ModernGraham posts about related companies

Stericycle Inc Valuation – February 2017 $SRCL
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Clean Harbors Inc Valuation – Initial Coverage $CLH
Waste Management Inc Valuation – August 2016 $WM
Stericycle Inc. Analysis – October 2015 Update $SRCL
Republic Services Inc. Analysis – September 2015 Update $RSG
Waste Management Inc. Analysis – 2015 Update $WM
Stericycle Inc. Annual Stock Valuation – 2014 $SRCL
Republic Services Inc. Annual Stock Valuation – September 2014 $RSG


The author did not hold a position in any company mentioned in this article at the time of publication and had no intention of changing that position within the next 72 hours.  See my current holdings here.  This article is not investment advice; any reader should speak to a registered investment adviser prior to making any investment decisions.  ModernGraham is not affiliated with the company in any manner.  Please be sure to review our detailed disclaimer.

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