Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued to investors on Tuesday. The brokerage currently has a $136.00 price target on the stock. Zacks Investment Research’s price target points to a potential upside of 13.32% from the company’s previous close.
According to Zacks, “We believe that a robust product portfolio, new product launches and an expanding customer base will drive organic sales for Ecolab. In fact the realization of targeted synergies associated with acquisitions will help in margin expansion. The recent takeover offer for France-based Laboratoires Anios will expand Ecolab’s institutional customer base and service coverage, particularly in the healthcare, food service, and food & beverage processing industries. Moreover, it will strengthen the company’s footprint in the emerging markets of Latin America and Asia-Pacific. Ecolab’s consistent delivery of considerable earnings growth despite the current challenging business environment continues to impress. The company also has a strengthened recurring revenue base, a major positive in our view. However, Ecolab’s full-year 2016 results are expected to be impacted by volatile foreign exchange.”
ECL has been the subject of a number of other reports. Nomura boosted their price objective on Ecolab from $94.00 to $98.00 and gave the stock a “reduce” rating in a report on Monday, August 22nd. Jefferies Group reissued a “hold” rating on shares of Ecolab in a report on Wednesday, July 6th. Canaccord Genuity reissued a “buy” rating on shares of Ecolab in a report on Wednesday, June 22nd. Citigroup Inc. boosted their price objective on Ecolab from $117.00 to $127.00 and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a report on Friday, July 15th. Finally, Barclays PLC reissued an “overweight” rating and set a $120.00 price objective on shares of Ecolab in a report on Friday, July 1st. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and twelve have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $127.25.
Shares of Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) opened at 120.01 on Tuesday. The company’s 50-day moving average price is $120.90 and its 200 day moving average price is $118.23. Ecolab has a 12-month low of $98.62 and a 12-month high of $124.60. The firm has a market capitalization of $34.99 billion, a PE ratio of 37.63 and a beta of 0.87.
Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, August 2nd. The company reported $1.08 EPS for the quarter, hitting analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.08. The firm earned $3.32 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $3.33 billion. Ecolab had a return on equity of 19.24% and a net margin of 7.20%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was down 2.1% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $1.08 EPS. On average, equities analysts forecast that Ecolab will post $4.44 earnings per share for the current year.
The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, October 17th. Stockholders of record on Tuesday, September 20th will be issued a $0.35 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Friday, September 16th. This represents a $1.40 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.17%. Ecolab’s payout ratio is currently 43.89%.
In related news, EVP Michael A. Hickey sold 17,761 shares of the stock in a transaction on Monday, August 29th. The stock was sold at an average price of $123.90, for a total value of $2,200,587.90. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 61,342 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $7,600,273.80. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, EVP Christophe Beck sold 5,789 shares of the stock in a transaction on Wednesday, September 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $122.70, for a total value of $710,310.30. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 32,475 shares in the company, valued at approximately $3,984,682.50. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 1.50% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.
A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in ECL. Point72 Asia Hong Kong Ltd purchased a new position in Ecolab during the second quarter worth approximately $166,000. Bartlett & Co. LLC boosted its position in Ecolab by 2.0% in the second quarter. Bartlett & Co. LLC now owns 1,568 shares of the company’s stock worth $186,000 after buying an additional 30 shares in the last quarter. Washington Trust Bank boosted its position in Ecolab by 29.2% in the second quarter. Washington Trust Bank now owns 1,592 shares of the company’s stock worth $189,000 after buying an additional 360 shares in the last quarter. Nations Financial Group Inc. IA ADV purchased a new position in Ecolab during the second quarter worth approximately $200,000. Finally, Nichols & Pratt Advisers LLP MA purchased a new position in Ecolab during the second quarter worth approximately $205,000. 74.80% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.
Ecolab Company Profile
Ecolab Inc provides water, hygiene and energy technologies and services. The Company’s segments include Global Industrial, Global Institutional, Global Energy, Other and Corporate. The Global Industrial segment consists of the Water, Food and Beverage, Paper and Textile Care operating units. The Global Institutional segment consists of the Institutional, Specialty and Healthcare operating units.
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