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Waste Connections (WCN) - Get Waste Connections, Inc. Report said third-quarter earnings fell from a year ago as the hauler's tax rate rose.

The Folsom, Calif., company made $21.9 million, or 47 cents a share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, down from the year-ago $24.5 million, or 51 cents a share. Revenue rose to $216.5 million from $188.7 million a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for a 50-cent profit on sales of $215 million.

Waste Connections said the latest quarter tax rate rose to 39.9% from 34.5% in the year-ago period, due to an adjustment in the estimated deferred tax rate. That change amounted to 6 cents a share, the company said.

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"We are extremely pleased with our operating results in the quarter, which exceeded the upper end of our outlook. We expect continuing pricing strength to result in sequentially more favorable year-over-year margin comparisons in the fourth quarter, providing a springboard for further improvements in 2007," said CEO Ronald J. Mittelstaedt. "Our strong free cash flow has enabled us already to meet our goal of repurchasing at least $100 million of stock during the year while maintaining our strong credit profile. We believe our improving financial outlook and free cash flow will continue to enable us to both execute our growth strategy and repurchase approximately 6% of outstanding shares per year without a material impact to our capital structure."

The company added $200 million to its buyback plan.