These Companies Are Cleaning Up

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This article is part of our Rising Stars Portfolio series.

Last month, I purchased shares of Clean Harbors (NYSE: CLH  ) for my Rising Star portfolio, attracted by its waste cleanup initiatives and interest in sustainable solutions in its own business. But even as that stock reaches new highs, I'm growing equally intrigued by several recent investments from one of the company's rivals.

Clean Harbors shares hit a new 52-week high Wednesday as the company continued the acquisitive strategy it kicked off with its January purchase of Badger Daylighting. This time, Clean Harbors announced its $167 million buyout of Canada's Peak Energy Services. According to the company, the acquisition should be a done deal in the second quarter, and will immediately add to its profits.

Although the purchase suggests that Clean Harbors is moving to the production end of the industry, an Investor's Business Daily article pointed out that the company can better target shale producers, who could use its services if regulators push through more stringent rules about the industry's generation of contaminants and waste. The Peak acquisition reinforces one of the strengths that led me to buy Clean Harbors in the first place: its ability to build relationships with companies to which it can later upsell other services.

However, Clean Harbors isn't the only cleanup company catching my eye. Rival Waste Management (NYSE: WM  ) has made several impressive investments of its own. Alongside fellow investors such as Kleiner Perkins and France's Total (NYSE: TOT  ) , Waste Management recently ploughed $22 million into Agilyx, which works on technology to transform waste plastic into a synthetic crude oil.

Entering this budding, intensely green market niche is just one of Waste Management's intriguing recent moves. Among other ventures, it's bought into Enerkem, a company aiming to turn garbage into fuel. Enerkem recently ranked No. 42 on Fast Company's list of 50 Most Innovative Companies, alongside household names such as No. 41, Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) , which is developing an "open energy" smartgrid, and No. 45, General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) , which pursues its "ecomagination" mission through more efficient trains, airplanes, and automation.

With the Department of Energy estimating that biomass could provide 40% of our energy needs, start-ups like Enerkem and Agilyx offer fascinating possibilities. How cool would it be to divert our plentiful waste from dead-end landfills into productive energy? I admire Waste Management's shrewd investments in exciting and potentially lucrative companies like these.

As of this writing, Clean Harbors has already gained about 6.8% since its purchase for my Rising Star portfolio, so I'm hardly suffering from buyer's remorse. However, I'm also starting to wonder whether Waste Management is greener and more forward-thinking than I previously realized. With its investments in innovative and eco-friendly ventures, it's earned a definite spot on my watchlist.

This article is part of our Rising Star Portfolios series, where we give some of our most promising stock analysts cold, hard cash to manage on the Fool's behalf. We'd like you to track our performance and benefit from these real-money, real-time free stock picks. See all of our Rising Star analysts (and their portfolios).

Waste Management is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Total and Waste Management are Motley Fool Income Investor selections. The Fool has created a bull call spread position on Cisco Systems. The Fool owns shares of Clean Harbors and Waste Management. Motley Fool Alpha LLC owns shares of Cisco Systems. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned; for more on this and other topics, check back at, or follow her on Twitter: @AlyceLomax. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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  • Report this Comment On April 12, 2011, at 7:19 PM, mfarm9 wrote:

    I completely agree that Clean Harbors should be a sound investment going forward. Their existing business is sound and they are making strategic acquisitions to penetrate new markets. In particular, I believe if they can seriously tap into the shale oil/gas fields . . . of which there now seem to be so many I won't mention them . . . that they will have a very good chance at solid future growth. I owned CLH until yesterday when my 5% stop loss kicked in and I sold. Unfortunately, CLH is another one of those companies that is sold off for no compelling reason. Market sells off; CLH gets sold with it . . . I look forward to buying CLH again when the market gains some composure. It looks a little shaky right now. The S&P seems to quiver and quake when it gets near 1330 to 1340. Happy Investing!

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Related Tickers

10/24/2016 4:00 PM
CLH $45.65 Up +0.36 +0.79%
Clean Harbors CAPS Rating: **
WM $62.58 Up +0.37 +0.59%
Waste Management CAPS Rating: *****
CSCO $30.46 Up +0.31 +1.03%
Cisco Systems CAPS Rating: ****
GE $28.92 Down -0.06 -0.21%
General Electric CAPS Rating: ****
TOT $48.61 Up +0.33 +0.68%
Total CAPS Rating: ****