Waste Connections (NYSE: WCN) and US Ecology (NASDAQ:ECOL) are both business services companies, but which is the better investment? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their dividends, risk, valuation, analyst recommendations, earnings, institutional ownership and profitability.

Dividends

Waste Connections pays an annual dividend of $0.38 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.6%. US Ecology pays an annual dividend of $0.72 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.4%. Waste Connections pays out 32.1% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. US Ecology pays out 56.3% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Both companies have healthy payout ratios and should be able to cover their dividend payments with earnings for the next several years. US Ecology has raised its dividend for 7 consecutive years. US Ecology is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Risk and Volatility

Waste Connections has a beta of 0.24, suggesting that its share price is 76% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, US Ecology has a beta of 0.69, suggesting that its share price is 31% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Insider and Institutional Ownership

82.8% of Waste Connections shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 85.6% of US Ecology shares are owned by institutional investors. 0.7% of Waste Connections shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 1.3% of US Ecology shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, large money managers and endowments believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Waste Connections and US Ecology’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Waste Connections $4.40 billion 3.98 $1.37 billion $1.18 56.18
US Ecology $478.29 million 2.34 $106.70 million $1.28 40.04

Waste Connections has higher revenue and earnings than US Ecology. US Ecology is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Waste Connections, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Profitability

This table compares Waste Connections and US Ecology’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Waste Connections 7.11% 9.19% 4.59%
US Ecology 5.86% 11.37% 4.11%

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of current ratings and recommmendations for Waste Connections and US Ecology, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Waste Connections 0 1 8 1 3.00
US Ecology 1 1 2 0 2.25

Waste Connections presently has a consensus price target of $71.33, suggesting a potential upside of 7.30%. US Ecology has a consensus price target of $53.75, suggesting a potential upside of 4.88%. Given Waste Connections’ stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, equities research analysts plainly believe Waste Connections is more favorable than US Ecology.

Summary

Waste Connections beats US Ecology on 11 of the 18 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Waste Connections

Waste Connections, Inc. is a solid waste services company in North America. The Company provides waste collection, transfer, disposal and recycling services in markets in the United States and Canada. The Company operates through six segments: Southern segment, Western segment, Eastern segment, Canada segment, Central segment and E&P segment. Through its R360 Environmental Solutions subsidiary, it also provides non-hazardous exploration and production, or E&P, waste treatment, recovery and disposal services in various natural resource producing areas in the United States. It also provides intermodal services for the rail haul movement of cargo and solid waste containers in the Pacific Northwest through a network of intermodal facilities. As of December 31, 2016, it served residential, commercial, industrial and exploration and production (E&P) customers in 40 states and the District of Columbia in the United States and five provinces in Canada.

About US Ecology

US Ecology, Inc. is a provider of environmental services to commercial and government entities. The Company offers treatment, disposal and recycling of hazardous, non-hazardous and radioactive waste, as well as a range of field and industrial services. The Company operates in two business segments: Environmental Services, and Field & Industrial Services. Its Environmental Services segment provides a range of hazardous material management services, including transportation, recycling, treatment and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste at Company-owned landfill, wastewater and other treatment facilities. The Company’s Field & Industrial Services segment provides packaging and collection of hazardous waste and total waste management solutions at customer sites and through its transfer facilities. Its services include on-site management, waste characterization, transportation and disposal of non-hazardous and hazardous waste.

Receive News & Stock Ratings for Waste Connections Inc. Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for Waste Connections Inc. and related stocks with our FREE daily email newsletter.