Shares of Essex Property Trust Inc. (NYSE:ESS) saw strong trading volume on Wednesday . 509,456 shares changed hands during mid-day trading, an increase of 44% from the previous session’s volume of 353,715 shares.The stock last traded at $218.55 and had previously closed at $222.73.

A number of equities research analysts have issued reports on the company. Credit Suisse Group AG reiterated a “hold” rating on shares of Essex Property Trust in a research note on Saturday, April 30th. Barclays PLC raised their target price on Essex Property Trust from $242.00 to $243.00 and gave the company an “equal weight” rating in a research note on Tuesday, July 19th. Raymond James Financial Inc. upgraded Essex Property Trust from a “market perform” rating to an “outperform” rating and set a $250.00 target price on the stock in a research note on Thursday, May 5th. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Essex Property Trust from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $254.00 target price on the stock in a research note on Tuesday, April 12th. Finally, Capital One Financial Corp. raised Essex Property Trust from an “equal weight” rating to an “overweight” rating in a report on Monday, May 16th. Sixteen equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eight have given a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $243.88.

The firm has a market capitalization of $14.32 billion and a PE ratio of 58.16. The company has a 50 day moving average price of $222.73 and a 200 day moving average price of $221.66.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, July 15th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, June 30th were paid a $1.60 dividend. This represents a $6.40 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.92%. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, June 28th.

In other Essex Property Trust news, Director Irving F. Lyons III sold 2,678 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, May 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $228.67, for a total value of $612,378.26. Following the transaction, the director now owns 8,973 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,051,855.91. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, CEO Michael J. Schall sold 10,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, July 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $222.23, for a total value of $2,222,300.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 47,954 shares in the company, valued at approximately $10,656,817.42. The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

Other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. Janus Capital Management raised its position in shares of Essex Property Trust by 1.7% in the third quarter. Janus Capital Management now owns 704,754 shares of the real estate investment trust’s stock valued at $157,456,000 after buying an additional 11,595 shares during the period. Edge Asset Management Inc. raised its position in shares of Essex Property Trust by 27.7% in the fourth quarter. Edge Asset Management Inc. now owns 67,246 shares of the real estate investment trust’s stock valued at $16,099,000 after buying an additional 14,576 shares during the period. Schroder Investment Management Group raised its position in shares of Essex Property Trust by 10.7% in the fourth quarter. Schroder Investment Management Group now owns 208,103 shares of the real estate investment trust’s stock valued at $49,822,000 after buying an additional 20,126 shares during the period. Mizuho Trust & Banking Co. Ltd. raised its position in shares of Essex Property Trust by 3.4% in the fourth quarter. Mizuho Trust & Banking Co. Ltd. now owns 111,724 shares of the real estate investment trust’s stock valued at $27,179,000 after buying an additional 3,636 shares during the period. Finally, Victory Capital Management Inc. raised its position in shares of Essex Property Trust by 1.0% in the fourth quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 318,091 shares of the real estate investment trust’s stock valued at $76,154,000 after buying an additional 3,147 shares during the period.

Essex Property Trust, Inc is a fully integrated real estate investment trust (REIT). The Company acquires, develops, redevelops, and manages multifamily residential properties in selected West Coast markets. As of October 13, 2014, it had ownership interests in 242 apartment communities with an additional 11 properties in various stages of development or in the initial leasing phase.

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