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Will Stericycle (SRCL) Disappoint in Q1 Earnings?

Waste management firm Stericycle, Inc. SRCL is scheduled to report first-quarter 2016 results after the closing bell on Apr 28. In the last reported quarter, adjusted earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 3 cents. The company has a dismal earnings surprise history with a trailing four-quarter average negative earnings surprise of 1.88%. Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Key Factors in the First Quarter

Stericycle had earlier acquired information destruction services provider Shred-it International. With Shred-it on board, Stericycle has enhanced its core compliance solutions portfolio and has begun to offer specialized services, thereby augmenting its value proposition to clients. These efforts are likely to improve its profitability in the first quarter as well.

The company is continuously on the lookout for strategic acquisitions that will expand market share and its geographic base. The acquisition pool of the company remains robust in multiple geographies and lines of business. International growth rates are expected to accelerate due to increasing customer adoption of multiple services and expansion into new lines of business.

However, high operating costs continue to be a headwind for Stericycle. In addition, a challenging macroeconomic environment and volatility in foreign exchange are affecting margins and the bottom line.

Moreover, Stericycle’s dependence on acquisitions to fuel growth and improve revenues has its flip side. Most of the acquired companies have lower gross margins and higher selling, general and administrative expenses. Acquisitions may also lead to higher overheads and integration-related expenses, which may result in lower profits in the first quarter.

In addition, Stericycle operates in a highly competitive market. The barriers to entry into the regulated waste collection and disposal business and the pharmaceutical returns business are very low. Competitors also resort to aggressive pricing to gain market share. This erodes the profitability of the company and is likely to lead to lower earnings in the soon-to-be-reported quarter.

For the first quarter, Stericycle expects earnings in the range of $5.26–$5.33 per share on revenues of $3.6 billion to $3.67 billion.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Stericycle is likely to beat earnings this quarter as it lacks a key component. A stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESPand a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), #2 (Buy) or #3 (Hold) for this to happen. This is not 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 at +1.74%.

Zacks Rank: Stericycle has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Though a positive ESP is encouraging, we believe that Sell-rated stocks (#4 and #5) should never be considered going into an earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.

Stocks to Consider

Here are some 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 Corporation 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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BOYD GAMING CP (BYD): Free Stock Analysis Report
ANIXTER INTL (AXE): Free Stock Analysis Report
ARCH CAP GP LTD (ACGL): Free Stock Analysis Report
STERICYCLE INC (SRCL): Free Stock Analysis Report
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