Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) was the target of unusually large options trading activity on Thursday. Traders acquired 1,761 put options on the stock. This is an increase of 808% compared to the average daily volume of 194 put options.

Several research firms have weighed in on ECL. Credit Suisse Group boosted their price target on shares of Ecolab from $129.00 to $137.00 and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a research note on Wednesday, January 24th. Royal Bank of Canada reissued a “buy” rating on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Friday, January 19th. Boenning Scattergood reissued a “buy” rating on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Monday, January 22nd. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of Ecolab from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $155.00 price target for the company in a research note on Monday, January 29th. Finally, UBS Group boosted their price objective on shares of Ecolab from $147.00 to $148.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, November 1st. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have given a hold rating and nine have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $140.07.

Ecolab (ECL) opened at $128.52 on Friday. Ecolab has a 52-week low of $120.46 and a 52-week high of $140.50. The stock has a market cap of $37,350.00, a PE ratio of 28.95, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.87 and a beta of 1.06. 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 also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, January 16th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, December 19th were given a $0.41 dividend. This is a boost from Ecolab’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.37. The ex-dividend date was Monday, December 18th. This represents a $1.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.28%. Ecolab’s payout ratio is presently 33.33%.

In other Ecolab news, CEO Douglas M. Baker, Jr. sold 18,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, December 6th. The shares were sold at an average price of $137.09, for a total value of $2,467,620.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chief executive officer now directly owns 427,548 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $58,612,555.32. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, insider Thomas W. Handley sold 11,644 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, December 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $137.50, for a total transaction of $1,601,050.00. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 109,542 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $15,062,025. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 57,446 shares of company stock valued at $7,886,307 over the last three months. 1.49% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in ECL. Atlantic Trust LLC purchased a new position in shares of Ecolab during the second quarter valued at about $106,000. IHT Wealth Management LLC increased its position in shares of Ecolab by 4.9% during the second quarter. IHT Wealth Management LLC now owns 811 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $116,000 after buying an additional 38 shares during the period. SeaCrest Wealth Management LLC purchased a new position in shares of Ecolab during the fourth quarter valued at about $125,000. Community Bank N.A. purchased a new position in shares of Ecolab during the fourth quarter valued at about $140,000. Finally, Cerebellum GP LLC purchased a new position in shares of Ecolab during the fourth quarter valued at about $174,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 76.63% of the company’s stock.

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About Ecolab

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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