Waste Management ( WMI) announced today that its first-quarter earnings fell 36% as business with industrial and commercial customers declined amid the recession.

The Houston-based trash hauler and recycler reported quarterly earnings of $155 million, or 31 cents a share, down from the year-ago period's $241 million, or 48 cents a share.

The company said it took charges in the quarter totaling $53 million to pay for restructuring costs and to drop a software system licensed from SAP. Without those items, the company's EPS would have been 42 cents, a penny above analyst estimates, according to Thomson Reuters.

The company said first-quarter revenue dropped 14% to $2.81 billion from $3.27 billion a year earlier.

Waste Management shares declined slightly in late trading Wednesday, changing hands at $26.93 on heavy volume, down 5 cents from yesterday's close.

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