SOURCE: American Ecology Corporation

April 29, 2008 06:00 ET

American Ecology Delivers Record Disposal Volume, Revenue and Operating Income in First Quarter 2008

BOISE, ID--(Marketwire - April 29, 2008) - American Ecology Corporation (NASDAQ: ECOL) ("the Company") today reported record operating and financial performance for the quarter ended March 31, 2008. Net income reached $5.9 million, or $0.32 per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2008, up 19% from net income of $4.9 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, in the first quarter last year.

Operating income for the first quarter of 2008 set a new quarterly record of $9.5 million. This was a 20% increase over operating income of $7.9 million recognized in the first quarter of 2007, and was 16% higher than our previous quarterly operating income record of $8.2 million posted in the second quarter of 2007.

Revenue for the first quarter of 2008 rose 19% to $46.2 million, up from $39.0 million in the same quarter last year. Our Idaho, Nevada and Texas waste facilities disposed of a record 343,000 tons of waste in the first quarter of 2008, a 28% increase over the first quarter of 2007. Gross profit was $13.4 million in the first quarter of 2008, a 17% increase over gross profit of $11.5 million posted in the same quarter last year.

Selling, general and administrative ("SG&A") expenses for the first quarter of 2008 were $3.9 million, or 9% of revenue, as compared to $3.6 million, or 9% of revenue, in the same quarter last year. The $320,000 increase in SG&A expenses primarily reflects higher payroll and benefit expenses, stock-based compensation expense, employee bonus accruals and business development costs.

Other income was $127,000 for the first quarter of 2008 and consisted primarily of interest and royalty income. This compares to other income of $214,000 for the first quarter of 2007, which was primarily interest income.

At March 31, 2008, we had $10.4 million of cash and short-term investments. Of our $15.0 million line of credit, $11.0 million was unused and the remaining $4.0 million covers a standby letter of credit providing collateral for financial assurance policies for future closure and post-closure obligations. The Company had no debt at quarter end.

"Record waste volumes made possible by recent capital investments helped us deliver record operating profits for the quarter," said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Romano. "While our Idaho site led the way, recent investments in new waste treatment and storage capacity at our Texas and Nevada sites helped each of these operations deliver superior performance as well."

Outlook

The Company issued 2008 earnings guidance of $1.17 to $1.23 per diluted share on February 7, 2008.

"Based on record first quarter results and a strong second quarter outlook, we project earnings toward the upper end of our 2008 guidance range," Romano commented. "Our Texas site is also on schedule to begin thermal desorption and recycling of petroleum-based wastes from refineries and other customers by the second half of the year."

Dividend

On April 1, 2008 the Company declared a $0.15 per common share quarterly dividend for stockholders of record on April 11, 2008. This $2.7 million dividend was paid on April 18, 2008 using cash on hand.

Conference Call

American Ecology will hold an investor conference call on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 11 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (9:00 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time) to discuss these results, its current financial position and its 2008 business outlook. Questions will be invited after management's presentation. Interested parties can join the conference call by dialing (877) 681-3374 or (719) 325-4913 and using the passcode 7879642. The conference call will also be broadcast live on our website at www.americanecology.com. An audio replay will be available through May 6, 2008 by calling (888) 203-1112 or (719) 457-0820 and using the passcode 7879642. The replay will also be accessible on our website at www.americanecology.com.

About American Ecology Corporation

American Ecology Corporation, through its subsidiaries, provides radioactive, PCB, hazardous, and non-hazardous waste services to commercial and government customers throughout the United States, such as steel mills, medical and academic institutions, refineries, chemical manufacturing facilities and the nuclear power industry. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, the Company is the oldest radioactive and hazardous waste services company in the United States.

This press release contains forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that are based on our current expectations, beliefs and assumptions about the industry and markets in which American Ecology Corporation and its subsidiaries operate. Because such statements include risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ materially from what is expressed herein and no assurance can be given that the Company will meet its 2008 earnings estimates, successfully execute its growth strategy, or declare or pay future dividends. For information on other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations, please refer to American Ecology Corporation's December 31, 2007 Annual Report on Form 10-K and other reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Many of the factors that will determine the Company's future results are beyond the ability of management to control or predict. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which reflect management's views only as of the date such statements are made. The Company undertakes no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements, or to make any other forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Important assumptions and other important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking information include a loss of a major customer, compliance with and changes to applicable laws and regulations, access to cost effective transportation services, access to insurance and other financial assurances, loss of key personnel, lawsuits, adverse economic conditions, government funding or competitive pressures, incidents that could limit or suspend specific operations, implementation of new technologies, our ability to perform under required contracts, our willingness or ability to pay dividends and our ability to integrate any potential acquisitions.

Investors should also be aware that while we do, from time to time, communicate with securities analysts, it is against our policy to disclose any material non-public information or other confidential commercial information. Accordingly, stockholders should not assume that we agree with any statement or report issued by any analyst irrespective of the content of the statement or report. Furthermore, we have a policy against issuing or confirming financial forecasts or projections issued by others. Thus, to the extent that reports issued by securities analysts contain any projections, forecasts or opinions, such reports are not the responsibility of American Ecology Corporation.

                       AMERICAN ECOLOGY CORPORATION
                    CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF INCOME
                  (in thousands, except per share data)
                                (unaudited)


                                                        Three Months Ended
                                                            March 31,
                                                        ------------------
                                                          2008      2007
                                                        --------  --------

Revenue                                                 $ 46,219  $ 38,964
Transportation costs                                      22,058    17,171
Other direct operating costs                              10,717    10,279
                                                        --------  --------

Gross profit                                              13,444    11,514

Selling, general and administrative expenses               3,919     3,599
                                                        --------  --------
Operating income                                           9,525     7,915

Other income (expense):
  Interest income                                             63       211
  Interest expense                                            (1)       (1)
  Other                                                       65         4
                                                        --------  --------
    Total other income                                       127       214

Income before income taxes                                 9,652     8,129
Income tax expense                                         3,784     3,194
                                                        --------  --------
Net income                                              $  5,868  $  4,935
                                                        ========  ========

Earnings per share:
  Basic                                                 $   0.32  $   0.27
  Diluted                                               $   0.32  $   0.27

Shares used in earnings per share calculation:
  Basic                                                   18,229    18,209
  Diluted                                                 18,277    18,253

Dividends paid per share                                $   0.15  $   0.15
                                                        ========  ========



                       AMERICAN ECOLOGY CORPORATION
                        CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
                              (in thousands)


                                                    March 31,
                                                      2008     December 31,
                                                   (unaudited)     2007
                                                   ----------- ------------
Assets

Current Assets:
  Cash and cash equivalents                        $     9,365 $     12,563
  Short-term investments                                   999        2,209
  Receivables, net                                      37,998       29,422
  Prepaid expenses and other current assets              3,039        3,034
  Income tax receivable                                      -          994
  Deferred income taxes                                    896          667
                                                   ----------- ------------
    Total current assets                                52,297       48,889

Property and equipment, net                             64,303       63,306
Restricted cash                                          4,818        4,881
                                                   ----------- ------------
Total assets                                       $   121,418 $    117,076
                                                   =========== ============

Liabilities and Stockholders’ Equity

Current Liabilities:
  Accounts payable                                 $     4,813 $      4,861
  Deferred revenue                                       4,214        4,491
  Accrued liabilities                                    5,352        6,236
  Accrued salaries and benefits                          1,699        2,613
  Customer advances                                          -           31
  Income tax payable                                     2,874            -
  Current portion of closure and post-closure
   obligations                                           1,314          803
  Current portion of capital lease obligations              10            8
                                                   ----------- ------------
    Total current liabilities                           20,276       19,043

Long-term closure and post-closure obligations          13,965       14,331
Long-term capital lease obligations                         28           27
Deferred income taxes                                      716          577
                                                   ----------- ------------
  Total liabilities                                     34,985       33,978

Contingencies and commitments

Stockholders’ Equity
  Common stock                                             182          182
  Additional paid-in capital                            59,020       58,816
  Retained earnings                                     27,231       24,100
                                                   ----------- ------------
    Total stockholders’ equity                          86,433       83,098
                                                   ----------- ------------
Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity         $   121,418 $    117,076
                                                   =========== ============



                       AMERICAN ECOLOGY CORPORATION
                   CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF CASH FLOWS
                              (in thousands)
                                (unaudited)



                                                            For the Three
                                                            Months Ended
                                                              March 31,
                                                          ----------------
                                                            2008     2007
                                                          -------  -------
Cash Flows From Operating Activities:
  Net income                                              $ 5,868  $ 4,935
  Adjustments to reconcile net income to net cash
   provided by operating activities:
    Depreciation, amortization and accretion                2,838    2,351
    Deferred income taxes                                     (90)   1,650
    Stock-based compensation expense                          201      143
    Accretion of interest income                              (14)     (60)
    Net gain on sale of property and equipment                 (2)       -
    Changes in assets and liabilities:
      Receivables                                          (8,576)  (1,432)
      Income tax receivable                                   994      650
      Other assets                                             (5)    (238)
      Accounts payable and accrued liabilities             (1,026)    (587)
      Deferred revenue                                       (277)      57
      Accrued salaries and benefits                          (914)    (453)
      Income tax payable                                    2,874      673
      Closure and post-closure obligations                   (164)    (119)
                                                          -------  -------
        Net cash provided by operating activities           1,707    7,570
Cash Flows From Investing Activities:
  Purchases of property and equipment                      (3,464)  (3,775)
  Purchases of short-term investments                        (992) (11,943)
  Maturities of short-term investments                      2,216   10,364
  Restricted cash                                              63      (61)
  Proceeds from sale of property and equipment                  9        -
                                                          -------  -------
        Net cash used in investing activities              (2,168)  (5,415)

Cash Flows From Financing Activities:
  Dividends paid                                           (2,737)  (2,734)
  Proceeds from stock option exercises                          1      326
  Tax benefit of common stock options                           2      216
  Other                                                        (3)      (2)
                                                          -------  -------
        Net cash used in financing activities              (2,737)  (2,194)

Decrease in cash and cash equivalents                      (3,198)     (39)

Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of period           12,563    3,775
                                                          -------  -------
Cash and cash equivalents at end of period                $ 9,365  $ 3,736
                                                          =======  =======

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