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Is Waste Management (WM) Set for a Beat in Q1 Earnings?

Waste Management, Inc.WM is scheduled to report first-quarter 2016 results before the opening bell on Apr 28. In the last reported quarter, earnings comfortably beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 3 cents. Waste Management has a solid earnings surprise history, beating estimate three times in the trailing four quarters for a positive average earnings surprise of 3.39%. Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Key Factors to Consider

Waste Management is executing well on its initiatives to refocus on core business activities and instill price and cost discipline to achieve better margins. The company is working on improving customer retention by providing better service and higher value solutions. The company has also taken prudent steps to divest non-core operations and focus on high-growth areas that will generate higher cash flows and boost the top line.

During the quarter, Waste Management completed the acquisition of some business assets in Florida from regional waste management firms, Southern Waste Systems and Sun Recycling., which are likely to be accretive to earnings. The transaction is a strategic fit for the company and is in sync with its existing operations and service offerings.

At the same time, the transaction enables Waste Management to extend its geographic footprint and make a foray into the attractive South Florida market. A steady stream of accretive acquisitions is likely to drive earnings for the company. 

In addition, Waste Management's successful cost reduction initiatives have helped it in accomplishing remarkable gross margin expansion and EBITDA growth. The company is undertaking several steps to further boost its margins — one of which is by charging for recycling glass. Glass packaging is the third-largest market in the recycled material packaging segment and is expected to grow at a steady pace.

With its new strategy, Waste Management stands to gain on two fronts — from the growth in the addressable market and also from the additional revenues coming in from recycling glass.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model conclusively shows that Waste Management is likely to beat earnings this quarter as it has the two key components. A stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), #2 (Buy) or #3 (Hold) for this to happen. This is perfectly the case here as you will see below:

Zacks ESP: Earnings ESP, which represents the difference between the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, is currently + 3.64%.

Zacks Rank: Waste Management’s Zacks Rank #2 when combined with a positive ESP makes us confident of a positive earnings surprise. Conversely, the Sell-rated stocks (#4 and #5) should never be considered going into an earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.

Other Stocks to Consider

Here are some other companies you may want to consider as our model shows that these have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

Arch Capital Group Ltd. ACGL, earnings ESP of +1.77% and a Zacks Rank #2.

Boyd Gaming Corp. BYD, earnings ESP of +36.00% and a Zacks Rank #1.

Anixter International Inc. AXE, earnings ESP of +13.58% and a Zacks Rank #2.

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