Handelsbanken Fonder AB reduced its stake in shares of Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) by 37.5% during the fourth quarter, according to the company in its most recent disclosure with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The institutional investor owned 50,000 shares of the basic materials company’s stock after selling 30,000 shares during the quarter. Handelsbanken Fonder AB’s holdings in Ecolab were worth $6,709,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.
Other hedge funds and other institutional investors also recently modified their holdings of the company. SeaCrest Wealth Management LLC acquired a new position in Ecolab during the fourth quarter worth about $125,000. Captrust Financial Advisors acquired a new position in Ecolab during the fourth quarter worth about $129,000. Aevitas Wealth Management Inc. acquired a new position in Ecolab during the fourth quarter worth about $133,000. Community Bank N.A. acquired a new position in Ecolab during the fourth quarter worth about $140,000. Finally, Cerebellum GP LLC acquired a new position in Ecolab during the fourth quarter worth about $174,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 78.33% of the company’s stock.
ECL stock opened at $132.25 on Friday. The firm has a market capitalization of $38,741.69, a PE ratio of 28.60, a P/E/G ratio of 2.00 and a beta of 1.07. Ecolab Inc. has a 12 month low of $122.58 and a 12 month high of $140.50. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.88, a current ratio of 1.34 and a quick ratio of 0.92.
The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, April 16th. Investors of record on Tuesday, March 20th will be paid a $0.41 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Monday, March 19th. This represents a $1.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.24%. Ecolab’s dividend payout ratio is currently 31.91%.
In other Ecolab news, major shareholder William H. Gates III bought 113,768 shares of the stock in a transaction on Wednesday, March 14th. The shares were bought at an average price of $136.89 per share, with a total value of $15,573,701.52. The acquisition was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, Director Jeffrey M. Ettinger bought 6,400 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, March 9th. The shares were acquired at an average cost of $134.42 per share, for a total transaction of $860,288.00. Following the purchase, the director now owns 11,164 shares in the company, valued at $1,500,664.88. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. In the last ninety days, insiders have acquired 1,848,529 shares of company stock worth $248,579,565. Company insiders own 1.49% of the company’s stock.
A number of research analysts recently issued reports on ECL shares. Royal Bank of Canada reaffirmed a “buy” rating on shares of Ecolab in a report on Friday, January 19th. Zacks Investment Research raised Ecolab from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $153.00 target price on the stock in a report on Tuesday. Citigroup lifted their target price on Ecolab from $140.00 to $144.00 and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a report on Thursday, February 22nd. Argus reaffirmed a “buy” rating and set a $150.00 target price on shares of Ecolab in a report on Thursday, February 22nd. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus lifted their target price on Ecolab from $140.00 to $153.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, January 24th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have issued a hold rating and eight have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $140.76.
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Ecolab Inc provides water, hygiene and energy technologies and services. The Company’s cleaning and sanitizing programs and products, pest elimination services and equipment maintenance and repair services support customers in the foodservice, food and beverage processing, hospitality, healthcare, government and education, retail, textile care and commercial facilities management sectors in over 170 countries.
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