Ecolab Inc. issued its profit forecast for 2013 and slightly revised its fourth-quarter 2012 guidance to reflect congressional tax credit delays and the delay of a key acquisition that was to close last month.

Ecolab CEO Doug Baker said in a statement Tuesday that 2013 earnings should be $3.38 to $3.48 per share, excluding special gains, charges and tax items.

The forecast excludes possible gains from the postponed purchase of Champion Technologies that had been expected to close in December. Due to antitrust concerns from the U.S. Justice Department, that $2.2 billion deal has been postponed as the companies try to work out competitive issues.

Company officials said they do not anticipate providing an update on the deal's progress until late February.

Baker's 2013 forecast includes a 3-cents-a-share hit from the recent December sale of Ecolab's vehicle care division.

Baker still expects adjusted full-year 2012 earnings of $2.96 to $3 a share, which compares to an adjusted $2.54 a share in 2011. Special gains and charges for full-year 2012 will result in a net charge of 60 cents a share.

Officials said Ecolab's fourth-quarter outlook will change slightly due to Congress's delay in passing the 2012 R&D tax credit. Officials had been expected to benefit from the credit in late 2012. But the delay in its passage means the anticipated penny-a-share credit will land in the first quarter of 2013.

Despite continued soft economic and market trends in 2013 and unfavorable pension costs, Baker wrote that he expects 2013 to be "another strong year."

Going forward, the St. Paul-based maker of sanitizing chemicals, water filtration and oil procurement and processing products will focus on new products and customers, cost reductions and merger synergies from its December 2011 purchase of Nalco.

Ecolab's shares fell 65 cents a share to close at $73.25 Tuesday.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725