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Stericycle Inc. (SRCL - Analyst Report) has reported its fiscal 2011 second quarter results delivering an EPS of 63 cents versus 61 cents in the year-earlier quarter.

The quarter noted some special items including 5 cents pertaining to acquisition expenses and a cent related to acceleration of term loan fees. Excluding these items adjusted EPS amounted to 69 cents, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate and 62 cents in the year-ago quarter.

During the quarter, total revenue reported by Stericycle increased 18% year over year to $410.4 million. Besides, there was a favorable impact from foreign exchange to the extent of $7.4 million, in the quarter.

Domestic revenue was $273.8 million, return and recall revenues contributed $26.9 million in the quarter and international revenues totaled $109.7 million, in the reported quarter. Domestic internal growth rate was up 8%, 9% up from small quantity and 6% up from large quantity.

Costs and Margins

Cost of sales soared to $223.7 million in the quarter versus $185.5 million in the year-ago quarter. Gross profit increased to $186.7 million from $161.5 million in the year-earlier quarter. However, gross margins contracted 20 basis points year over year to 45.5%.

Selling, general and administrative expenses increased to $74.5 million in the quarter from $65.1 million in the year-ago quarter. Income from operations improved significantly to $108.7 million from $94.3 million in the prior-year quarter. However, operating margins declined 20 basis points year over year to 26.5%.

Financial Position

As of June 30, 2011, Stericycle reported cash and cash equivalents of $38.2 million, declining from $77.0 million as of December 31, 2010.

As of June 30, 2011, the debt-to-capitalization ratio increased to 48.2% from 47% as of March 31, 2011 and 51% as of December 31, 2010.

Cash from operations declined to $119.7 million at the end of second quarter from $129.3 million in the year-ago period.

Stericycle repurchased 50,675 shares of common stock for $4.3 million in the quarter, under its authorization program.

During the quarter, the company completed 11 acquisitions, of which 7 were domestic and 4 were international, including Healthcare Waste Solutions.

Outlook

Management provides full year EPS guidance in the range of $2.78 to $2.80 per share and projects revenue in the range of $1.62 billion to $1.65 billion.

Free cash flow is estimated in the range of $284 million to $288 million and capital expenditure is expected in the range of $45 million to $55 million.

Our Take

A significant portion of Stericycle’s historical growth came from the successful integration of acquisitions in both domestic and international markets. The company is continuously looking for strategic acquisitions that will further bolster its existing market position and expand its geographic base.

Stericycle’s merger and acquisition pipeline both in the United States and abroad remains quite robust. Furthermore, the recent completion of the HWS acquisition and steady rollout of new products like Steri-Safe and Bio Systems add to the company’s growth potential.

However, the increase in overhead costs and integration-related expenses could have an adverse impact on its operating margins. The shares of Stericycle currently retain a Zacks #2 Rank (short-term Buy recommendation).

Lake Forest, Illinois-based Stericycle is a leading provider of regulated medical waste management as well as product recall and return services in the U.S. The company’s customers fall into two categories – small-accounts (outpatient clinics, medical and dental offices, long-term and sub-acute care facilities and retail pharmacies) and large-accounts (hospitals, blood banks and pharmaceutical manufacturers).

The company caters to a wide clientele spanning domestic and international markets. Stericycle competes with US Ecology Inc. (ECOL - Snapshot Report) and Waste Management Inc. (WM - Analyst Report).

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