Benjamin F. Edwards & Company Inc. reduced its stake in Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) by 24.1% in the first quarter, according to the company in its most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The firm owned 3,520 shares of the basic materials company’s stock after selling 1,118 shares during the period. Benjamin F. Edwards & Company Inc.’s holdings in Ecolab were worth $548,000 as of its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Several other large investors also recently modified their holdings of ECL. AE Wealth Management LLC lifted its stake in shares of Ecolab by 89.0% in the 4th quarter. AE Wealth Management LLC now owns 5,556 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $1,072,000 after acquiring an additional 2,617 shares during the period. Merit Financial Group LLC acquired a new stake in Ecolab during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $270,000. Mirador Capital Partners LP acquired a new stake in Ecolab during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $378,000. Assenagon Asset Management S.A. lifted its stake in Ecolab by 32.1% during the fourth quarter. Assenagon Asset Management S.A. now owns 15,731 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $3,036,000 after purchasing an additional 3,819 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Arden Trust Co lifted its stake in Ecolab by 2.7% during the fourth quarter. Arden Trust Co now owns 5,766 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $1,113,000 after purchasing an additional 151 shares during the last quarter. 75.64% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Shares of ECL opened at $194.75 on Friday. The company’s fifty day moving average is $176.22 and its 200-day moving average is $186.67. Ecolab Inc. has a 12 month low of $124.60 and a 12 month high of $211.24. The firm has a market cap of $55.32 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 36.81, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 3.77 and a beta of 0.99. The company has a quick ratio of 1.15, a current ratio of 1.51 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.76.

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

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, July 15th. Investors of record on Tuesday, June 16th will be issued a dividend of $0.47 per share. This represents a $1.88 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 0.97%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Monday, June 15th. Ecolab’s dividend payout ratio is currently 32.30%.

Several analysts recently commented on the stock. Seaport Global Securities reissued a “neutral” rating on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Tuesday, February 18th. BMO Capital Markets boosted their price target on shares of Ecolab from $171.00 to $177.00 and gave the company a “market perform” rating in a report on Wednesday, April 29th. Deutsche Bank cut their price target on shares of Ecolab from $220.00 to $170.00 and set a “hold” rating on the stock in a report on Friday, March 20th. Stifel Nicolaus boosted their price target on shares of Ecolab from $164.00 to $175.00 and gave the company a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, April 30th. Finally, Boenning Scattergood lowered shares of Ecolab from an “outperform” rating to a “neutral” rating in a research note on Friday, February 7th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have issued a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company. Ecolab currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $188.15.

In related news, EVP Angela M. Busch sold 1,800 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, May 12th. The shares were sold at an average price of $197.03, for a total transaction of $354,654.00. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 15,712 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $3,095,735.36. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, CEO Douglas M. Baker, Jr. sold 162,723 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, February 20th. The stock was sold at an average price of $206.44, for a total transaction of $33,592,536.12. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now directly owns 750,104 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $154,851,469.76. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders have sold 276,467 shares of company stock valued at $56,483,228. 1.22% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Ecolab Profile

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.

Further Reading: Bid-Ask Spread

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Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Ecolab (NYSE:ECL)

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