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Casella Q1 2020 Earnings Unphased Despite COVID-19 Outbreak, And Retains An Optimistic Outlook For 2020

Despite some COVID-19-related declines in solid waste volumes, the company was able to shed unprofitable contracts and reduce other costs to keep earnings growth unphased amidst the pandemic

Despite the ongoing economic downturn related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rutland, Vermont-based Casella Waste Systems Connections Inc. (CWST), performed well during the first quarter of 2020 amidst the company's response to the pandemic and looks to gain further ground through the end of the year as stay-at-home orders are lifted, according to today's company earnings call.

John W. Casella, the company's Chairman and CEO, said "we did not experience any material negative impacts in the first quarter" on the company's May 8 earnings call, noting that "our proactive response has been very successful".  He also noted that the company's geographic position in various northeastern cities has helped to "limit exposure" and mentioned measures the company has taken to ensure employee safety amidst the pandemic, saying the company is "highly focused on mitigation measures such as distributing PPE" among employees, freezing non-essential travel and ensuring work from home where possible. 

Adjusted EBITDA for Q1 2020 came in at $33.5 million which is up $6.9 million (25.9%) from $26.6 million in adjusted EBITDA that the company posted for Q1 2019. The company saw margin improvements across almost all lines of business.

While company solid waste volumes were down 2.7% during the quarter amid the COVID-19 outbreak which has forced businesses to close, the company made gains by offloading unprofitable work. 

The company has also frozen various capital expenditures, eliminated overtime and right-sized other variable costs to shield earnings.

The company has also made four recent acquisitions in the Albany and Rochester areas constituting $13 of annualized revenues as part of its strategic growth initiative. 

The company also plans to "be ready and nimble" as customers come back online in the coming months as stay-at-home orders are lifted and people get back to work across their key markets.  

John Casella also thanked employees who have dedicated themselves to continuing work on the frontlines throughout the pandemic and said he was "incredibly proud". 

Additional CWST Financial Highlights for Q1 2020:

  • Revenue was $182.91 million for Q1 2020, up $19.2 million (11.8%) reported for Q1 2019
  • Overall solid waste price grew at 5.8%, while solid waste volumes were down 2.7%
  • Net cash provided by operating activities was $14.8 million for Q1 2020, up $10.0 million from Q1 2019
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