Clean Harbors (NYSE:CLH), the largest hazardous waste disposal and environmental cleanup provider in North America, is not your typical garbage company. You won't find them picking up your trash and recyclables. The Norwell, Massachusetts-based company provides industrial and business-related waste management. When the BP (NYSE:BP) oil spill occurred, and more recently, the Yellowstone River oil spill, Clean Harbors was on the scene. These all-too-frequent disasters provide a lot of business, and investors are really cleaning up. A smart vertical acquisition strategy has Clean Harbors positioned to deliver excellent long-term returns to shareholders, even without environmental catastrophes. (To learn more, read Analyzing An Acquisition Announcement.)
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Big Mess, Big Profits
In addition to disaster cleanup, the company has penetrated the fast growing industrial and oilfield services market. This is an important component of Clean Harbors' strategic vision. During the third quarter, Clean Harbors' record setting revenue stream broke down as follows:
Industrial services - $117.9 millionOil and gas field services - $113.5 million.Tech services - $213.9 millionField services - $111.2 millionSeveral areas of strength contributed to Clean Harbors' excellent quarter. In particular, the landfill segment, buoyed by shale activity in the Bakken region, was a primary driver. Bookings for oil sands projects remain extremely strong heading into the busy season, and tailwinds from turnaround projects are expected to spill over again in the coming quarters.Growth by AcquisitionClean Harbors is an aggressive company with a history of expanding through acquisition. In 2009, Clean Harbors broadened its reach into the energy and industrial service offerings within the United States and Canada via the purchase of Eveready Inc. Recent acquisitions of Peak Energy Services and Destiny Resource Services helped the Oil and Gas Field Services segment deliver a 130% year-over-year revenue increase.Clean Harbors' burgeoning lodging business should provide a revenue and synergy boost as well. Alan S. McKim, who serves as President, CEO and Chairman, believes the lodging division will account for 10 to 12% of revenues in a few years. Lodging complements operations all along the chain, and the Eveready acquisition is one of the cornerstones. (For related reading, check out Oil And Gas Industry Primer.)It's worth noting that Clean Harbors' corporate governance structure might become a bit worrisome. McKim, who founded the company in 1980, functions in both managerial and board positions. But McKim has steered Clean Harbor in the right direction for over 30 years. Of more immediate concern is the potential increases in commodity costs, specifically fuel, chemicals and neutralizers. Clean Harbors was able to pass through some fuel costs through surcharges last quarter.While investors should be mindful of the cost structure, the thing to focus on is how well Clean Harbors executes on its acquisition strategy. Last quarter, approximately $72 million of Clean Harbor's $556 million in revenues derived from recent acquisitions. McKim estimates roughly $37 million in revenues derived from vertical cross selling in the chemical segment alone. James Rutledge, CFO and Vice Chairman of the Board, emphasized during the earnings conference call the tremendous opportunities to sell across new businesses. "We got into the Industrial Services business and the Oil and Gas business in a big way only within the last two years," Rutledge points out, implying the opportunity to leverage other services with these healthy businesses.The Bottom LineClean Harbors continues to differentiate itself from the low-growth garbage business. The stock is crushing traditional garbage collectors like Waste Management (NYSE:WM) and Republic Services (NYSE:RSG), along with Paris-based Veolia Environment (NYSE:VE). While Clean Harbors offers no dividend, its price performance reflects the company's ability to deliver consistent returns and strong growth prospects. (For additional reading, see Dividend Facts You May Not Know.) Use the Investopedia Stock Simulator to trade the stocks mentioned in this stock analysis, risk free!At the time of writing, Matt Cavallaro did not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.