Ecolab (ECL) Stock Rating Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research

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Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report released on Wednesday morning. They currently have $176.00 price objective on the basic materials company’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Ecolab’s stock has outperformed its industry in a year's time. A strong guidance instills optimism on the stock. Ecolab has also undertaken a cost-efficiency initiative that is expected to result in approximately $200 million of SG&A savings by 2021. Strong prospects in Global Industrial segment buoy optimism. Europe, North America and Latin America have been driving Global Industrial regional growth. Strength in the Global Institutional segment led by growth in the Specialty and Healthcare business lines is also a positive. Robust product portfolio and an expanding customer base are likely to drive organic sales. Despite strength in the Pest Elimination business, the Other segment declined year over year on a reported basis in the last quarter. Ecolab operates in highly competitive markets, which might mar prospects over the long haul. Ecolab faces pricing pressure in the Energy segment, which is likely to hurt profits.”

Several other brokerages also recently commented on ECL. UBS Group boosted their price objective on shares of Ecolab from $165.00 to $180.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Tuesday, October 2nd. Nomura reiterated a hold rating and set a $146.00 price target on shares of Ecolab in a report on Wednesday, August 1st. JPMorgan Chase & Co. upgraded shares of Ecolab from an underweight rating to a neutral rating in a report on Wednesday, August 1st. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Ecolab from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report on Friday, September 7th. Finally, Canaccord Genuity set a $160.00 price target on shares of Ecolab and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Tuesday, July 24th. Eight research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and ten have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has an average rating of Buy and an average price target of $151.87.

ECL traded up $0.03 during trading on Wednesday, hitting $145.98. 1,430,042 shares of the stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 1,189,445. Ecolab has a twelve month low of $125.74 and a twelve month high of $159.92. The company has a market cap of $45.29 billion, a P/E ratio of 31.13, a P/E/G ratio of 2.28 and a beta of 0.95. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.80, a current ratio of 1.27 and a quick ratio of 0.84.

Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, July 31st. The basic materials company reported $1.27 EPS for the quarter, meeting the consensus estimate of $1.27. Ecolab had a net margin of 10.83% and a return on equity of 18.96%. The business had revenue of $3.69 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $3.69 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the business earned $1.13 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was up 6.6% on a year-over-year basis. On average, analysts expect that Ecolab will post 5.37 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, October 15th. Investors of record on Tuesday, September 18th will be paid a $0.41 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Monday, September 17th. This represents a $1.64 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.12%. Ecolab’s dividend payout ratio is 34.97%.

In related news, Director Victoria Reich sold 6,700 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, August 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $148.40, for a total value of $994,280.00. Following the sale, the director now owns 20,987 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $3,114,470.80. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, Director David Maclennan acquired 500 shares of Ecolab stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 2nd. The stock was acquired at an average cost of $146.40 per share, for a total transaction of $73,200.00. Following the purchase, the director now owns 2,128 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $311,539.20. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. In the last three months, insiders sold 114,885 shares of company stock worth $17,369,786. 1.50% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Several institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Baillie Gifford & Co. lifted its position in Ecolab by 18.8% during the second quarter. Baillie Gifford & Co. now owns 16,402 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $2,302,000 after purchasing an additional 2,601 shares during the last quarter. Colony Group LLC bought a new position in Ecolab during the 2nd quarter worth about $211,000. Royal London Asset Management Ltd. bought a new position in Ecolab during the 2nd quarter worth about $26,888,000. Landmark Bank bought a new position in Ecolab during the 2nd quarter worth about $1,195,000. Finally, M Holdings Securities Inc. grew its holdings in Ecolab by 9.5% during the 2nd quarter. M Holdings Securities Inc. now owns 8,116 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $1,139,000 after acquiring an additional 706 shares in the last quarter. 76.26% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About Ecolab

Ecolab Inc provides water, hygiene, and energy technologies and services for customers worldwide. The company operates through Global Industrial, Global Institutional, and Global Energy segments. The Global Industrial segment provides water treatment and process applications, and cleaning and sanitizing solutions primarily to large industrial customers within the manufacturing, food and beverage processing, chemical, mining and primary metals, power generation, pulp and paper, and commercial laundry industries.

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