Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note published on Monday.

According to Zacks, “Ecolab operates in highly-competitive Chemical Specialty markets. Dull outlook for the company’s Energy segment is a headwind. Factors like unfavorable pricing, margin pressures and competition are behind the dull outlook. The company lowered guidance for 2018. Despite strength in the Pest Elimination business and Colloidal technologies, Ecolab’s Other segment declined year over year on a reported basis in recent times. On the brighter side, Ecolab has undertaken a cost-savings initiative that is expected to result in approximately $200 million of SG&A savings by 2021. Strength in the Global Institutional segment led by growth in the Specialty and Healthcare business lines is also a positive. Robust product portfolio and an expanding customer base are likely to drive organic sales. Ecolab outperformed its industry in a year’s time.”

A number of other equities analysts also recently weighed in on the stock. UBS Group raised their target price on shares of Ecolab from $165.00 to $180.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 2nd. Nomura decreased their target price on shares of Ecolab from $153.00 to $150.00 and set a neutral rating for the company in a research note on Tuesday, October 16th. Bank of America initiated coverage on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Tuesday, October 23rd. They set a buy rating and a $123.00 target price for the company. Barclays raised their target price on shares of Ecolab from $150.00 to $165.00 and gave the company an overweight rating in a research note on Wednesday, October 24th. Finally, ValuEngine raised shares of Ecolab from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Friday, September 7th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have given a hold rating and eight have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $154.47.

Shares of NYSE ECL opened at $149.64 on Monday. Ecolab has a fifty-two week low of $125.74 and a fifty-two week high of $162.91. The company has a market cap of $44.62 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 31.91, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.30 and a beta of 0.88. The company has a quick ratio of 0.90, a current ratio of 1.34 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.79.

Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) last announced its earnings results on Tuesday, October 30th. The basic materials company reported $1.53 earnings per share for the quarter, meeting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.53. Ecolab had a net margin of 10.99% and a return on equity of 19.13%. The business had revenue of $3.75 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $3.74 billion. During the same quarter last year, the firm earned $1.37 earnings per share. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.1% on a year-over-year basis. On average, sell-side analysts anticipate that Ecolab will post 5.25 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 15th. Investors of record on Tuesday, December 18th will be given a dividend of $0.46 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Monday, December 17th. This represents a $1.84 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.23%. This is an increase from Ecolab’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.41. Ecolab’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 34.97%.

In related news, Director Leslie S. Biller sold 2,811 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 30th. The shares were sold at an average price of $160.40, for a total transaction of $450,884.40. Following the completion of the sale, the director now owns 57,842 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $9,277,856.80. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, Chairman Douglas M. Baker, Jr. sold 40,025 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, November 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $160.20, for a total transaction of $6,412,005.00. Following the sale, the chairman now directly owns 558,017 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $89,394,323.40. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 1.50% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Ancora Advisors LLC bought a new stake in shares of Ecolab during the third quarter valued at approximately $107,000. Honkamp Krueger Financial Services Inc. bought a new stake in Ecolab in the 3rd quarter worth approximately $110,000. Braun Bostich & Associates Inc. grew its position in Ecolab by 487.7% in the 2nd quarter. Braun Bostich & Associates Inc. now owns 858 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $120,000 after purchasing an additional 712 shares during the period. Mckinley Capital Management LLC Delaware bought a new stake in Ecolab in the 3rd quarter worth approximately $147,000. Finally, Flagship Harbor Advisors LLC bought a new stake in Ecolab in the 2nd quarter worth approximately $139,000. 75.87% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

About Ecolab

Ecolab, Inc engages in the provision of products and services in the field of water, hygiene, and energy. It operates through the following segments: Global Industrial, Global Institutional, Global Energy, and Other. The Global Industrial segment provides water treatment and process applications for industrial customers; and cleaning and sanitizing solutions for the food and beverage, and textile care industries.

See Also: Return on Investment (ROI)

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