Ecolab (ECL) Sees Large Volume Increase

Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) shares saw unusually-high trading volume on Tuesday . Approximately 611,111 shares traded hands during trading, a decline of 57% from the previous session’s volume of 1,419,726 shares.The stock last traded at $147.59 and had previously closed at $146.96.

ECL has been the subject of a number of research reports. Argus reiterated a “buy” rating and set a $150.00 price target on shares of Ecolab in a research report on Thursday, February 22nd. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of Ecolab from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $155.00 price objective for the company in a research note on Monday, January 29th. Canaccord Genuity set a $145.00 price objective on shares of Ecolab and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Monday, March 12th. Boenning Scattergood reissued a “buy” rating on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Monday, January 22nd. Finally, Royal Bank of Canada reissued a “buy” rating on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Friday, January 19th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have given a hold rating and eleven have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $141.06.

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The company has a market capitalization of $40,781.03, a P/E ratio of 31.45, a P/E/G ratio of 2.10 and a beta of 1.00. The company has a current ratio of 1.34, a quick ratio of 0.92 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.88.

Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) last released its earnings results on Tuesday, February 20th. The basic materials company reported $1.39 EPS for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.40 by ($0.01). The firm had revenue of $3.65 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $3.60 billion. Ecolab had a return on equity of 19.10% and a net margin of 10.90%. The firm’s revenue was up 8.9% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $1.25 earnings per share. analysts predict that Ecolab Inc. will post 5.35 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, April 16th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, March 20th were paid a $0.41 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Monday, March 19th. This represents a $1.64 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.11%. Ecolab’s payout ratio is currently 34.97%.

In other news, major shareholder William H. Gates III bought 113,768 shares of the stock in a transaction on Wednesday, March 14th. The stock was purchased at an average cost of $136.89 per share, with a total value of $15,573,701.52. The purchase was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, major shareholder William H. Gates III bought 694,343 shares of the stock in a transaction on Wednesday, March 7th. The stock was purchased at an average cost of $132.10 per share, with a total value of $91,722,710.30. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Insiders acquired a total of 1,848,529 shares of company stock valued at $248,579,565 over the last ninety days. 1.50% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Wetherby Asset Management Inc. grew its stake in shares of Ecolab by 5.6% during the 4th quarter. Wetherby Asset Management Inc. now owns 7,606 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $1,021,000 after buying an additional 405 shares during the period. M Holdings Securities Inc. grew its stake in shares of Ecolab by 5.9% during the 4th quarter. M Holdings Securities Inc. now owns 7,591 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $476,000 after buying an additional 422 shares during the period. Alps Advisors Inc. grew its stake in shares of Ecolab by 16.9% during the 4th quarter. Alps Advisors Inc. now owns 2,970 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $399,000 after buying an additional 430 shares during the period. Dorsey & Whitney Trust CO LLC grew its stake in shares of Ecolab by 0.5% during the 4th quarter. Dorsey & Whitney Trust CO LLC now owns 90,158 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $12,096,000 after buying an additional 430 shares during the period. Finally, Whittier Trust Co. grew its stake in shares of Ecolab by 5.4% during the 4th quarter. Whittier Trust Co. now owns 8,920 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $1,197,000 after buying an additional 457 shares during the period. 78.33% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

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About Ecolab

Ecolab Inc provides water, hygiene and energy technologies and services. The Company’s cleaning and sanitizing programs and products, pest elimination services and equipment maintenance and repair services support customers in the foodservice, food and beverage processing, hospitality, healthcare, government and education, retail, textile care and commercial facilities management sectors in over 170 countries.

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