Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report issued on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Ecolab’s second-quarter 2017 earnings and revenues surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The upside came from new business gains, better pricing, product innovation and cost efficiencies. This more than offset higher delivered product costs. Going forward we believe a robust product portfolio and an expanding customer base will drive Ecolab organic sales over the long haul. In fact, the realization of targeted synergies associated with acquisitions should also pave way for margin expansion. Year-to-date, Ecolab has outperformed the industry. The company expects its water, food and beverage, and paper businesses to benefit in the near term. On the flipside, Ecolab operates in highly competitive markets, which might dent its prospects over the long haul. We believe volatility in foreign currency exchange rates will remain a significant headwind for the company. Ecolab faces pricing pressure in the Energy segment which is likely to hurt profits.”

Several other research firms have also weighed in on ECL. Credit Suisse Group reissued a “hold” rating on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Wednesday, September 6th. Stifel Nicolaus reissued a “hold” rating and set a $130.00 price objective on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Thursday, August 3rd. Canaccord Genuity lifted their price objective on shares of Ecolab from $135.00 to $145.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Friday, July 28th. BidaskClub raised shares of Ecolab from a “strong sell” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Wednesday, August 23rd. Finally, Morgan Stanley assumed coverage on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Tuesday, August 15th. They set an “equal weight” rating and a $140.00 price objective on the stock. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have given a hold rating and seven have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $133.77.

Shares of Ecolab (NYSE ECL) traded up 0.0835% during midday trading on Tuesday, hitting $130.8692. 151,122 shares of the company traded hands. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $130.83 and its 200 day moving average is $129.94. The stock has a market capitalization of $37.87 billion, a P/E ratio of 29.9198 and a beta of 0.98. Ecolab has a 12-month low of $110.65 and a 12-month high of $134.89.

Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) last released its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, August 1st. The basic materials company reported $1.13 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.12 by $0.01. Ecolab had a net margin of 9.66% and a return on equity of 18.93%. The business had revenue of $3.46 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $3.40 billion. During the same quarter last year, the firm earned $1.08 EPS. Ecolab’s quarterly revenue was up 4.4% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, analysts expect that Ecolab will post $4.73 earnings per share for the current year.

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In other Ecolab news, major shareholder William H. Gates III acquired 75,500 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, August 3rd. The shares were bought at an average cost of $132.57 per share, for a total transaction of $10,009,035.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, insider Thomas W. Handley sold 7,397 shares of Ecolab stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, September 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $130.63, for a total transaction of $966,270.11. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 1.49% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its holdings in shares of 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 purchasing an additional 387,804 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. raised its holdings in shares of 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 purchasing an additional 293,303 shares during the last quarter. State Street Corp raised its holdings in shares of 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 purchasing an additional 31,277 shares during the last quarter. Clearbridge Investments LLC raised its holdings in shares of 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 purchasing an additional 320,253 shares during the last quarter. Finally, C WorldWide Group Holding A S raised its holdings in shares of 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 purchasing an additional 285,258 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 75.42% 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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