Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) was the recipient of unusually large options trading activity on Thursday. Traders bought 2,852 call options on the stock. This is an increase of 857% compared to the average volume of 298 call options.

Institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. BlackRock Inc. boosted its holdings in Ecolab by 3.4% in the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 17,657,493 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $3,486,296,000 after acquiring an additional 578,662 shares in the last quarter. Pictet Asset Management Ltd. boosted its holdings in Ecolab by 12.9% in the fourth quarter. Pictet Asset Management Ltd. now owns 3,336,411 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $643,894,000 after acquiring an additional 381,681 shares in the last quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. boosted its holdings in Ecolab by 0.7% in the fourth quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 3,227,952 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $622,962,000 after acquiring an additional 22,775 shares in the last quarter. California Public Employees Retirement System boosted its holdings in Ecolab by 1.3% in the fourth quarter. California Public Employees Retirement System now owns 2,100,160 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $405,310,000 after acquiring an additional 26,698 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. boosted its holdings in Ecolab by 36.5% in the fourth quarter. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. now owns 1,843,772 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $355,826,000 after acquiring an additional 493,401 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 74.89% of the company’s stock.

ECL has been the topic of several research reports. JPMorgan Chase & Co. lifted their price target on shares of Ecolab from $186.00 to $192.00 and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a research note on Friday, December 20th. Boenning Scattergood downgraded shares of Ecolab from an “outperform” rating to a “neutral” rating in a research note on Friday, February 7th. Eleven research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and four have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $199.27.

Shares of Ecolab stock traded up $0.86 on Friday, hitting $207.92. The stock had a trading volume of 135,299 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,115,760. 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 one year low of $160.83 and a one year high of $209.87. The stock has a market cap of $59.61 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 39.91, a PEG ratio of 2.56 and a beta of 0.80. The stock’s 50-day simple moving average is $195.88 and its two-hundred day simple moving average is $195.22.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, January 15th. Stockholders of record on Tuesday, December 17th were issued a $0.47 dividend. This is a boost from Ecolab’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.46. The ex-dividend date was Monday, December 16th. This represents a $1.88 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 0.90%. Ecolab’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 35.81%.

Ecolab Company Profile

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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