Renaissance Investment Group LLC increased its stake in shares of Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) by 11.5% during the 1st quarter, according to its most recent Form 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The fund owned 2,670 shares of the basic materials company’s stock after purchasing an additional 275 shares during the quarter. Renaissance Investment Group LLC’s holdings in Ecolab were worth $471,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.
Several other institutional investors and hedge funds also recently added to or reduced their stakes in ECL. Tributary Capital Management LLC bought a new stake in shares of Ecolab during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $25,000. Athena Capital Advisors LLC bought a new stake in shares of Ecolab during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $25,000. Liberty Wealth Management LLC bought a new stake in shares of Ecolab during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $27,000. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund grew its stake in shares of Ecolab by 14,455.4% during the fourth quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 4,084,837 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $28,000 after purchasing an additional 4,056,773 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Ruggie Capital Group bought a new stake in shares of Ecolab during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $30,000. 76.33% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.
In related news, CFO Daniel J. Schmechel sold 9,799 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, March 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $169.93, for a total transaction of $1,665,144.07. Following the sale, the chief financial officer now directly owns 171,040 shares in the company, valued at $29,064,827.20. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, CEO Douglas M. Baker, Jr. sold 157,125 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, March 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $170.14, for a total transaction of $26,733,247.50. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now owns 536,060 shares in the company, valued at $91,205,248.40. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders have sold 303,489 shares of company stock worth $51,945,415. Insiders own 1.52% of the company’s stock.
Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, February 19th. The basic materials company reported $1.54 earnings per share for the quarter, hitting analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.54. The company had revenue of $3.76 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $3.76 billion. Ecolab had a net margin of 9.74% and a return on equity of 19.44%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 3.1% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the firm posted $1.38 earnings per share. As a group, sell-side analysts predict that Ecolab Inc. will post 5.91 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.
The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, April 15th. Stockholders of record on Tuesday, March 19th were given a dividend of $0.46 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Monday, March 18th. This represents a $1.84 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.00%. Ecolab’s dividend payout ratio is 35.05%.
Several analysts have recently commented on the stock. Nomura raised shares of Ecolab from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and increased their price target for the company from $170.00 to $210.00 in a research note on Thursday. UBS Group cut shares of Ecolab from a “buy” rating to a “neutral” rating and increased their price target for the company from $180.00 to $186.00 in a research note on Thursday. Edward Jones cut shares of Ecolab from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, April 5th. Canaccord Genuity reissued a “buy” rating and set a $186.00 price target (up from $160.00) on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Wednesday, February 20th. Finally, JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut shares of Ecolab from an “overweight” rating to a “neutral” rating and raised their price objective for the company from $157.00 to $167.00 in a research note on Wednesday, February 20th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have given a hold rating and six have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $168.64.
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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.
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