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Ecolab 3Q Profit Declines 47%

By Micah Maidenberg

Ecolab Inc. said results for the third quarter picked up compared with earlier this year when Covid-19-related lockdowns led to a recession, but warned a new wave of virus infections likely means slower growth in the current period.

The provider of a wide-range of cleaning products, sanitizers, disinfectants and related items on Tuesday said third-quarter net income fell 47% to $246.2 million, or 85 cents a share, from $464.2 million, or $1.59, in the same period a year earlier. The company said it recorded $44 million in special charges in the quarter tied to an efficiency initiative, weighing on profit.

Adjusted earnings fell to $1.15 a share for the quarter, 3 cents higher than forecast by analysts polled by FactSet.

Sales fell 6% to $3.02 billion from $3.22 billion a year earlier and were a bit ahead of the consensus estimate.

Sales, after adjusting for currency fluctuations, were down 2% in its industrial unit, and 22% in its global-institutional business, which offers cleaners and other products to restaurants, laundries and other companies.

But Ecolab reported a 32% sales increase after adjusting for currency moves for its global healthcare and life sciences division, helped along by demand stoked by the pandemic.

"We expect the improvement to continue in our fourth quarter, though likely at a slower rate as the second Covid-19 wave impacts reopenings," Chief Executive Douglas Baker said in a statement. "At the same time, the opportunities and challenges created by Covid-19 are much clearer."

The company has been pushing to invest more in hand care and sanitizer capacity, Mr. Baker said.

Write to Micah Maidenberg at micah.maidenberg@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 27, 2020 09:23 ET (13:23 GMT)

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