Ecolab delivered strong fourth quarter sales and earnings results, as adjusted earnings per share increased 27% over last year. Results were led by strong growth in its Global Energy, Latin America and worldwide Kay business.
CEO comment Commenting on the quarter, Douglas M. Baker, Jr., Ecolab’s chairman and chief executive officer said, “Fourth quarter results were strong as our team performed very well in 2012’s challenging environment, driving strong sales growth in otherwise mixed end markets and economies. We continued to leverage our innovative products and industry-leading customer service to drive new business and increase our solutions within our current account base. The fourth quarter segment earnings also benefited from comparison to a softer period last year for the Water, Paper and Energy Services businesses, when profits were impacted by a sharp run-up in raw material costs in that period.
“We continue to perform well despite difficult end-use markets. Our new business and customer retention metrics continue to trend well in all major businesses. We continue to build competitive advantage in both field service capabilities and technology solutions. As a result, even though we do not expect a material improvement in the global macroeconomic environment, we remain bullish regarding our 2013 prospects.
“Our formula for 2013 is familiar: utilize our competitive advantages to drive growth to overcome sluggish economies and cost headwinds. We expect modest raw material inflation early in the year which we believe will abate. We also expect another year of higher pension costs due to the extremely low interest rate environment. However, and more importantly, we see significant new business opportunities and further cost efficiency and synergy improvements.“Net, we believe 2013 will deliver another year of double-digit adjusted earnings growth. We expect solid double-digit adjusted earnings gains in the first quarter as well, as we work to overcome a difficult comparison and raw material and outsized pension cost impacts, with continued double-digit growth over the remainder of the year. We have excellent market positions and customer relationships, as well as the innovative technology and sales and service teams to serve them as we believe no one else can. We are confident this will be another year of superior growth for our company.”