Palisade Asset Management LLC raised its stake in Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) by 17.5% during the 1st quarter, according to the company in its most recent disclosure with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The fund owned 33,695 shares of the basic materials company’s stock after purchasing an additional 5,020 shares during the period. Palisade Asset Management LLC’s holdings in Ecolab were worth $5,949,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

Several other large investors also recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. BlackRock Inc. grew its stake in shares of Ecolab by 4.1% in the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 16,641,721 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $2,452,158,000 after acquiring an additional 656,297 shares in the last quarter. Bank of America Corp DE grew its stake in shares of Ecolab by 0.9% in the fourth quarter. Bank of America Corp DE now owns 4,447,561 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $655,348,000 after acquiring an additional 39,640 shares in the last quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp grew its stake in shares of Ecolab by 7.9% in the fourth quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 4,151,160 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $611,674,000 after acquiring an additional 304,832 shares in the last quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund grew its stake in shares of Ecolab by 14,455.4% in the fourth quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 4,084,837 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $28,000 after acquiring an additional 4,056,773 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Northern Trust Corp grew its stake in shares of Ecolab by 4.4% in the fourth quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 3,177,693 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $468,233,000 after acquiring an additional 135,035 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 76.33% of the company’s stock.

ECL has been the topic of several research reports. Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Ecolab from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Monday, December 17th. Boenning Scattergood restated a “buy” rating and issued a $210.00 price target on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Tuesday, February 5th. Seaport Global Securities restated a “neutral” rating on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Tuesday, February 5th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. downgraded shares of Ecolab from an “overweight” rating to a “neutral” rating and upped their price target for the company from $157.00 to $167.00 in a research note on Wednesday, February 20th. Finally, Canaccord Genuity restated a “buy” rating and issued a $186.00 price target (up from $160.00) on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Wednesday, February 20th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have assigned a hold rating and five have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. Ecolab presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $163.93.

ECL traded down $1.32 on Monday, hitting $183.77. 1,089,448 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 1,034,005. Ecolab Inc. has a 12 month low of $135.77 and a 12 month high of $185.31. The company has a quick ratio of 0.85, a current ratio of 1.27 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.78. The stock has a market capitalization of $52.77 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 35.00, a P/E/G ratio of 2.49 and a beta of 0.89.

Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, February 19th. The basic materials company reported $1.54 earnings per share for the quarter, hitting the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.54. Ecolab had a net margin of 9.74% and a return on equity of 19.44%. The business had revenue of $3.76 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $3.76 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business posted $1.38 earnings per share. Ecolab’s revenue was up 3.1% compared to the same quarter last year. Sell-side analysts anticipate that Ecolab Inc. will post 5.91 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, April 15th. Investors of record on Tuesday, March 19th will be given a dividend of $0.46 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Monday, March 18th. This represents a $1.84 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.00%. Ecolab’s dividend payout ratio is 35.05%.

In other news, CEO Douglas M. Baker, Jr. sold 157,125 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Friday, March 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $170.14, for a total value of $26,733,247.50. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now owns 536,060 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $91,205,248.40. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, CFO Daniel J. Schmechel sold 9,799 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Friday, March 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $169.93, for a total transaction of $1,665,144.07. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief financial officer now directly owns 171,040 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $29,064,827.20. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 303,489 shares of company stock valued at $51,945,415 in the last ninety days. 1.52% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

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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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Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Ecolab (NYSE:ECL)

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