Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report released on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “Ecolab’s third-quarter 2017 earnings and revenues surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The beats came on the back of business gains and better pricing, which more than offset higher delivery product costs. Strength in the Global Institutional segment led by growth in the Specialty and Healthcare business lines is a positive.We believe a robust product portfolio and expanding customer base will drive organic sales over the long haul. Year to date, Ecolab has outperformed the industry. On the flipside, the company expects a significant impact of the hurricanes on fourth-quarter sales and costs. Ecolab operates in highly competitive markets, which might mar its prospects over the long haul. We believe volatility in foreign currency exchange rates will remain a significant headwind for the company. Ecolab faces pricing pressure in the Energy segment which is likely to hurt profits. “

Other equities research analysts also recently issued research reports about the stock. Credit Suisse Group reiterated a hold rating on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Wednesday, September 6th. Stifel Nicolaus reiterated a hold rating and set a $130.00 target price on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Thursday, August 3rd. Robert W. Baird reiterated a hold rating and set a $140.00 target price on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Thursday, October 12th. Canaccord Genuity increased their target price on shares of Ecolab from $135.00 to $145.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a research note on Friday, July 28th. Finally, BidaskClub upgraded shares of Ecolab from a strong sell rating to a sell rating in a research note on Wednesday, August 23rd. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have issued a hold rating and seven have issued a buy rating to the stock. Ecolab presently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $136.43.

Ecolab (NYSE ECL) traded up $0.53 during midday trading on Thursday, reaching $131.91. 710,608 shares of the company’s stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 990,573. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.89, a current ratio of 1.23 and a quick ratio of 0.83. The company has a market cap of $37,957.56, a price-to-earnings ratio of 28.88, a P/E/G ratio of 2.19 and a beta of 1.04.

Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) last released its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, October 31st. The basic materials company reported $1.37 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.36 by $0.01. Ecolab had a net margin of 9.67% and a return on equity of 19.05%. The company had revenue of $3.56 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $3.55 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $1.28 earnings per share. Ecolab’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.2% on a year-over-year basis. analysts forecast that Ecolab will post 4.71 EPS for the current year.

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In related news, insider Thomas W. Handley sold 7,397 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, September 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $130.63, for a total transaction of $966,270.11. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Corporate insiders own 1.49% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of ECL. Municipal Employees Retirement System of Michigan increased its holdings in Ecolab by 0.7% in the first quarter. Municipal Employees Retirement System of Michigan now owns 15,590 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $1,954,000 after buying an additional 110 shares in the last quarter. ZWJ Investment Counsel Inc. increased its holdings in Ecolab by 1.2% in the first quarter. ZWJ Investment Counsel Inc. now owns 2,530 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $317,000 after buying an additional 30 shares in the last quarter. First Business Financial Services Inc. increased its holdings in Ecolab by 13.0% in the first quarter. First Business Financial Services Inc. now owns 4,054 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $508,000 after buying an additional 466 shares in the last quarter. OppenheimerFunds Inc. increased its holdings in Ecolab by 7.7% in the first quarter. OppenheimerFunds Inc. now owns 13,689 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $1,716,000 after buying an additional 973 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Principal Financial Group Inc. increased its holdings in Ecolab by 0.3% in the first quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 1,154,887 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $144,753,000 after buying an additional 3,581 shares in the last quarter. 75.29% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Ecolab Company Profile

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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Analyst Recommendations for Ecolab (NYSE:ECL)

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