Morgan Stanley started coverage on shares of Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) in a research note released on Tuesday, Marketbeat Ratings reports. The firm issued an equal weight rating and a $140.00 price target on the basic materials company’s stock.

A number of other brokerages have also issued reports on ECL. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Ecolab from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report on Thursday, July 27th. Oppenheimer Holdings, Inc. reiterated an outperform rating and issued a $141.00 price objective (up previously from $133.00) on shares of Ecolab in a report on Friday, June 2nd. Deutsche Bank AG raised their price objective on shares of Ecolab from $132.00 to $134.00 and gave the company a hold rating in a report on Wednesday, August 2nd. Credit Suisse Group set a $128.00 price objective on shares of Ecolab and gave the company a hold rating in a report on Thursday, August 3rd. Finally, UBS AG reiterated a buy rating and issued a $147.00 price objective (up previously from $144.00) on shares of Ecolab in a report on Wednesday, August 2nd. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating and eight have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $134.20.

Shares of Ecolab (ECL) opened at 131.15 on Tuesday. The stock’s 50 day moving average is $132.16 and its 200 day moving average is $128.04. Ecolab has a 12 month low of $110.65 and a 12 month high of $134.89. The firm has a market cap of $37.95 billion, a PE ratio of 29.98 and a beta of 0.98.

Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) last posted its earnings results on Tuesday, August 1st. The basic materials company reported $1.13 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.12 by $0.01. The firm had revenue of $3.46 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $3.40 billion. Ecolab had a net margin of 9.66% and a return on equity of 18.93%. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.4% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $1.08 earnings per share. Analysts forecast that Ecolab will post $4.80 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, October 16th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, September 19th will be issued a dividend of $0.37 per share. The ex-dividend date is Monday, September 18th. This represents a $1.48 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.13%. Ecolab’s payout ratio is 33.79%.

In other news, major shareholder William H. Gates III purchased 75,500 shares of the stock in a transaction on Thursday, August 3rd. The stock was purchased at an average price of $132.57 per share, for a total transaction of $10,009,035.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, EVP Christophe Beck sold 6,959 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, May 19th. The stock was sold at an average price of $127.11, for a total transaction of $884,558.49. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 42,419 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $5,391,879.09. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last 90 days, insiders have sold 44,810 shares of company stock valued at $5,897,361. Company insiders own 1.49% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its position in Ecolab by 1.9% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 20,842,027 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $2,766,780,000 after buying an additional 387,804 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. raised its position in Ecolab by 2.0% in the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 15,325,707 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $2,034,488,000 after buying an additional 293,303 shares during the last quarter. State Street Corp raised its position in Ecolab by 0.3% in the first quarter. State Street Corp now owns 11,935,943 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $1,496,059,000 after buying an additional 31,277 shares during the last quarter. Clearbridge Investments LLC raised its position in Ecolab by 6.8% in the first quarter. Clearbridge Investments LLC now owns 5,012,431 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $628,258,000 after buying an additional 320,253 shares during the last quarter. Finally, C WorldWide Group Holding A S raised its position in Ecolab by 8.3% in the second quarter. C WorldWide Group Holding A S now owns 3,704,233 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $491,737,000 after buying an additional 285,258 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 75.73% of the company’s stock.

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.

Analyst Recommendations for Ecolab (NYSE:ECL)

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