In its fourth quarter earnings report, Ecolab reported strong quarter results, as adjusted earnings per share increased 17% over last year to a record $1.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011. Food & Beverage led the growth, with continued good Institutional gains in the quarter. Ecolab's U.S. Cleaning & Sanitizing operating income increased 27% to $144 million compared to the year ago period when unfavorable mix and a customer charge reduced income. Adjusted for acquisitions, U.S. Cleaning & Sanitizing operating income increased 19%.
Ecolab’s U.S. Other Services segment, which includes pest elimination and commercial equipment and repair maintenance, increased 2% to $114 million in the fourth quarter.
Commenting on the quarter, Douglas M. Baker, Jr., Ecolab's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer said, "We are very pleased with our fourth quarter results. Our team delivered our strongest adjusted EPS growth quarter of the year, delivering another double-digit increase. This also completed another strong year, which represented our ninth year of adjusted double-digit earnings per share growth out of the last ten years, all achieved while we continued to invest in the future and managed the Nalco merger close and integration."
In reference to 2012, for which Ecolab continues to expect 2012 full-year adjusted earnings per share in a $2.95 to $3.05 range, representing a 16% to 20% increase over the prior year, Baker added, "While we face headwinds due to unfavorable currency and higher pension and raw material costs, we also enter the year with our businesses on the right trajectory, a strengthened management team, an excellent innovation pipeline, and leadership positions in terrific businesses: food safety, water and energy. Our legacy Ecolab businesses are showing solid trends, and the legacy Nalco businesses we acquired are poised for another year of strong growth. Further, the integration process is progressing well, and we are well-positioned to take advantage of the strong growth and cost synergies arising from our combination which we expect to build throughout the year. As a result, we are confident 2012 will be another year of superior growth for our company and lead to another year of improved shareholder value."
More information is available at Ecolab.