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Ecolab Profit Soars 66%

Sales rose 6% to $1.43 billion.

Cleaning and pest-control services company Ecolab Inc. said on April 27 its first-quarter profit soared 66% from a year-ago period that was weighed down by a hefty charge, and raised its 2010 outlook.

"Our markets are generally showing expected improvement from 2009's difficult environment, and we are stepping up our investments to drive growth within them," CEO Douglas M. Baker Jr. said.

In the first quarter, the St. Paul, Minn., company said it earned $95.5 million, or 40 cents per share. That compares with a profit of $57.4 million, or 24 cents per share, in the first quarter of last year, when the company booked a $21-million restructuring charge.

Excluding one-time items, Ecolab reported an adjusted profit of 41 cents per share in the latest period.

Sales rose 6% to $1.43 billion, led by strong growth from the company's Kay food safety division, and in the Asia Pacific, Canada and Latin America regions. Ecolab's U.S. cleaning and sanitizing sales rose 2% to $632.3 million, and international sales also rose 2 percent to $699.6 million.

Ecolab said it now expects full-year adjusted earnings to range between $2.21 and $2.26 per share, up from its previous forecast of $2.17 to $2.25 per share. Analysts expect earnings of about $2.22 per share, on average.

Second-quarter adjusted profit is expected to range between 54 cents and 57 cents per share, compared with analysts' average estimate of 56 cents.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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