Ecolab Target of Unusually Large Options Trading (NYSE:ECL)

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Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) was the recipient of unusually large options trading on Thursday. Stock investors bought 16,997 put options on the company. This is an increase of 729% compared to the average volume of 2,051 put options.

A number of analysts have recently commented on the company. JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut Ecolab from a “neutral” rating to an “underweight” rating and dropped their price target for the stock from $200.00 to $152.00 in a research report on Tuesday, March 17th. BMO Capital Markets boosted their price target on Ecolab from $171.00 to $177.00 and gave the stock a “market perform” rating in a research report on Wednesday, April 29th. Stifel Nicolaus boosted their price objective on shares of Ecolab from $164.00 to $175.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, April 30th. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Ecolab from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating and set a $204.00 price objective for the company. in a report on Wednesday, March 4th. Finally, Cfra boosted their price objective on shares of Ecolab from $170.00 to $197.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, April 30th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have issued a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the company. Ecolab presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $188.15.

Shares of ECL opened at $200.50 on Friday. The firm has a market cap of $57.96 billion, a PE ratio of 37.90, a P/E/G ratio of 3.82 and a beta of 0.99. The company has a current ratio of 1.51, a quick ratio of 1.15 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.76. The firm has a fifty day simple moving average of $182.15 and a two-hundred day simple moving average of $186.92. Ecolab has a 1-year low of $124.60 and a 1-year high of $211.24.

Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) last announced its earnings results on Tuesday, April 28th. The basic materials company reported $1.13 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.06 by $0.07. The business had revenue of $3.58 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $3.49 billion. Ecolab had a net margin of 10.32% and a return on equity of 20.12%. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 2.2% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the business earned $1.03 EPS. As a group, research analysts forecast that Ecolab will post 5.06 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, July 15th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, June 16th will be paid a dividend of $0.47 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Monday, June 15th. This represents a $1.88 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 0.94%. Ecolab’s dividend payout ratio is presently 32.30%.

In other news, EVP Timothy P. Mulhere sold 7,388 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, May 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $196.35, for a total value of $1,450,633.80. Following the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 24,160 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $4,743,816. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, EVP Angela M. Busch sold 1,800 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, May 12th. The stock was sold at an average price of $197.03, for a total value of $354,654.00. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 15,712 shares in the company, valued at $3,095,735.36. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders sold 108,844 shares of company stock worth $21,878,694. Insiders own 1.22% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the business. The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company raised its stake in Ecolab by 15.4% during the 1st quarter. The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company now owns 273,577 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $42,631,000 after buying an additional 36,602 shares during the last quarter. FDx Advisors Inc. grew its position in shares of Ecolab by 5.8% during the 1st quarter. FDx Advisors Inc. now owns 4,758 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $741,000 after acquiring an additional 259 shares during the period. Clearbridge Investments LLC grew its position in shares of Ecolab by 2.2% during the 1st quarter. Clearbridge Investments LLC now owns 5,644,155 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $879,529,000 after acquiring an additional 119,338 shares during the period. Patton Albertson Miller Group LLC grew its position in shares of Ecolab by 7.4% during the 1st quarter. Patton Albertson Miller Group LLC now owns 12,225 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $1,905,000 after acquiring an additional 845 shares during the period. Finally, Peninsula Asset Management Inc. grew its position in shares of Ecolab by 8.4% during the 1st quarter. Peninsula Asset Management Inc. now owns 25,367 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $3,953,000 after acquiring an additional 1,971 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 74.17% of the company’s stock.

About Ecolab

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

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