Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL)’s share price gapped up prior to trading on Thursday . The stock had previously closed at $120.34, but opened at $120.56. Ecolab shares last traded at $121.30, with a volume of 281,848 shares trading hands.

Several research firms have commented on ECL. Jefferies Group reiterated a “hold” rating on shares of Ecolab in a report on Wednesday, July 6th. Nomura Holdings Inc. reiterated a “sell” rating on shares of Ecolab in a report on Thursday, June 30th. Barclays PLC reiterated an “overweight” rating and issued a $120.00 price objective on shares of Ecolab in a report on Friday, July 1st. Canaccord Genuity reiterated a “buy” rating on shares of Ecolab in a report on Wednesday, June 22nd. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus decreased their price objective on shares of Ecolab from $129.00 to $123.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a report on Wednesday, June 1st. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have assigned a hold rating and ten have assigned a buy rating to the company. Ecolab presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $120.17.

The company has a market capitalization of $35.57 billion and a PE ratio of 36.52. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $118.86 and a 200-day moving average price of $112.14.

Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, May 3rd. The company reported $0.77 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.76 by $0.01. During the same period last year, the business posted $0.80 EPS. The firm earned $3.10 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $3.12 billion. The company’s revenue was down 6.1% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities analysts forecast that Ecolab Inc. will post $4.44 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, July 15th. Investors of record on Tuesday, June 21st will be issued a $0.35 dividend. This represents a $1.40 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.15%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, June 17th.

In related news, Director Jerry A. Grundhofer sold 15,000 shares of Ecolab stock in a transaction dated Friday, May 6th. The stock was sold at an average price of $116.55, for a total value of $1,748,250.00. Following the completion of the sale, the director now owns 62,307 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $7,261,880.85. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, EVP Timothy P. Mulhere sold 3,762 shares of Ecolab stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, June 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $121.60, for a total value of $457,459.20. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 12,725 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,547,360. The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

A number of large investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Roosevelt Investment Group Inc. raised its stake in shares of Ecolab by 101.0% in the fourth quarter. Roosevelt Investment Group Inc. now owns 188,434 shares of the company’s stock valued at $21,553,000 after buying an additional 94,686 shares during the period. Ashburton Jersey Ltd purchased a new stake in shares of Ecolab during the fourth quarter valued at $6,518,000. Gluskin Sheff & Assoc Inc. raised its position in Ecolab by 52.5% in the fourth quarter. Gluskin Sheff & Assoc Inc. now owns 32,860 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,759,000 after buying an additional 11,310 shares during the last quarter. Edgewood Management LLC raised its position in Ecolab by 4.8% in the fourth quarter. Edgewood Management LLC now owns 3,001,196 shares of the company’s stock worth $343,277,000 after buying an additional 137,185 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Dimensional Fund Advisors LP raised its position in Ecolab by 4.9% in the fourth quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 561,124 shares of the company’s stock worth $64,185,000 after buying an additional 26,231 shares during the last quarter.

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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