Waste Management Names New CEO

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Waste Management Inc. (NYSE: WM) has announced that its chief financial officer, James C. Fish Jr., will take up the reins as the company’s president and chief executive officer. He replaces David P. Steiner, who has served as CEO since 2004. Fish also has been elected to the board of directors.

Non-Executive Chairman W. Robert Reum said:

Over the last 15 years at Waste Management, Jim has consistently delivered results, and has the skills and leadership qualities that make him ideally suited for the role. He has a deep understanding of our strategy, impressive financial and operational acumen and strong support from employees, customers and investors. We look forward to working closely with him and the rest of the senior leadership team as the Company continues to execute on its long-term strategy.

Fish said:

It is a privilege to be named CEO of Waste Management, and I greatly appreciate the Board’s confidence in me. Waste Management has executed extremely well on our overall strategy, the results of which are reflected in our very strong shareholder returns.

The company currently sports a dividend yield near 2.5%. Investors seem to be happy, as the share price is up more than 24% year to date, compared with a 6% gain in the S&P 500. Earlier this year, Waste Management was an alternative pick in the 24/7 Wall St. 10 Stocks to Own for a Decade, losing out to peer Republic Services in a virtual coin toss.

Analysts, on the other hand, have mixed feelings about the stock. While Barclays this week upgraded Waste Management to Overweight from Equal Weight with a $70 price target, Goldman Sachs recently initiated it with a Sell rating and assigned a $63 price target.

Looking back a little farther, Bank of America upgraded the shares to Buy from Neutral with a $72 price target last month. Yet Wedbush lowered it from Outperform to Neutral, lowering the price target from $73 to $68 as well. Argus reiterated its Buy rating with a $72 price target back in August.

Time will tell whether this management change will spur analysts to make further calls.

The current consensus price target is $70.40. Shares close at $66.54 on Thursday, in a 52-week range of $50.36 to $70.50.