Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) was the target of a large decrease in short interest in January. As of January 31st, there was short interest totalling 3,210,000 shares, a decrease of 11.1% from the January 15th total of 3,610,000 shares. Approximately 1.1% of the company’s shares are sold short. Based on an average daily trading volume, of 1,110,000 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 2.9 days.

A number of hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. BlackRock Inc. grew its position in shares of Ecolab by 3.4% in the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 17,657,493 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $3,486,296,000 after acquiring an additional 578,662 shares in the last quarter. Cerebellum GP LLC bought a new stake in shares of Ecolab in the 3rd quarter worth approximately $63,000. Wealthfront Advisers LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Ecolab by 12.5% in the 3rd quarter. Wealthfront Advisers LLC now owns 9,456 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $1,873,000 after purchasing an additional 1,047 shares during the last quarter. DNB Asset Management AS lifted its holdings in shares of Ecolab by 20.5% in the 3rd quarter. DNB Asset Management AS now owns 50,547 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $10,010,000 after purchasing an additional 8,592 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Company Ltd lifted its holdings in shares of Ecolab by 10.0% in the 3rd quarter. Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Company Ltd now owns 16,401 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $3,248,000 after purchasing an additional 1,497 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 74.89% of the company’s stock.

A number of analysts recently commented on ECL shares. Boenning Scattergood cut shares of Ecolab from an “outperform” rating to a “neutral” rating in a research report on Friday, February 7th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. upped their price objective on shares of Ecolab from $186.00 to $192.00 and gave the company a “neutral” rating in a research report on Friday, December 20th. Eleven research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the stock. Ecolab currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $199.27.

Shares of ECL traded up $0.25 during trading hours on Friday, reaching $207.31. The stock had a trading volume of 1,233,592 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,124,198. The firm has a 50-day moving average of $195.88 and a 200 day moving average of $195.22. The company has a market cap of $59.61 billion, a P/E ratio of 39.79, a P/E/G ratio of 2.56 and a beta of 0.80. The company has a quick ratio of 0.84, a current ratio of 1.24 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.69. Ecolab has a 52 week low of $162.21 and a 52 week high of $209.87.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, January 15th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, December 17th were issued a dividend of $0.47 per share. This represents a $1.88 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 0.91%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Monday, December 16th. This is a boost from Ecolab’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.46. Ecolab’s dividend payout ratio is 35.81%.

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.

Further Reading: The limitations of an equal weight rating

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