Wall Street brokerages forecast that Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) will post $3.57 billion in sales for the current fiscal quarter, Zacks reports. Six analysts have issued estimates for Ecolab’s earnings. The lowest sales estimate is $3.53 billion and the highest is $3.61 billion. Ecolab posted sales of $3.47 billion in the same quarter last year, which would suggest a positive year-over-year growth rate of 2.9%. The firm is scheduled to report its next quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, May 7th.

According to Zacks, analysts expect that Ecolab will report full-year sales of $15.46 billion for the current year, with estimates ranging from $15.29 billion to $15.63 billion. For the next financial year, analysts forecast that the firm will post sales of $16.16 billion, with estimates ranging from $14.83 billion to $16.72 billion. Zacks Investment Research’s sales calculations are a mean average based on a survey of research analysts that cover Ecolab.

Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) last released its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, February 19th. The basic materials company reported $1.54 EPS for the quarter, hitting the consensus estimate of $1.54. The company had revenue of $3.76 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $3.76 billion. Ecolab had a return on equity of 19.44% and a net margin of 9.74%. Ecolab’s quarterly revenue was up 3.1% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the business posted $1.38 EPS.

Several research analysts have commented on ECL shares. UBS Group downgraded Ecolab from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating in a report on Wednesday, November 21st. Citigroup downgraded Ecolab from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating in a report on Wednesday, November 21st. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Oppenheimer reiterated a “market perform” rating on shares of Ecolab in a report on Wednesday, November 21st. Finally, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Ecolab from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, November 21st. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have assigned a hold rating and five have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $163.93.

In related news, CFO Daniel J. Schmechel sold 9,799 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Friday, March 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $169.93, for a total transaction of $1,665,144.07. Following the transaction, the chief financial officer now directly owns 171,040 shares in the company, valued at approximately $29,064,827.20. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, EVP Roberto Inchaustegui sold 37,200 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Monday, March 4th. The stock was sold at an average price of $169.08, for a total value of $6,289,776.00. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 41,232 shares in the company, valued at $6,971,506.56. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 216,336 shares of company stock worth $36,768,482 over the last quarter. Company insiders own 1.50% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in ECL. BlackRock Inc. lifted its position in Ecolab by 4.1% during the 4th quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 16,641,721 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $2,452,158,000 after acquiring an additional 656,297 shares during the period. Edgewood Management LLC lifted its position in Ecolab by 19.7% during the 3rd quarter. Edgewood Management LLC now owns 6,762,577 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $1,060,237,000 after acquiring an additional 1,111,893 shares during the period. Bank of America Corp DE lifted its position in Ecolab by 0.9% during the 4th quarter. Bank of America Corp DE now owns 4,447,561 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $655,348,000 after acquiring an additional 39,640 shares during the period. Bank of New York Mellon Corp lifted its position in Ecolab by 7.9% during the 4th quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 4,151,160 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $611,674,000 after acquiring an additional 304,832 shares during the period. Finally, Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund lifted its position in Ecolab by 14,455.4% during the 4th quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 4,084,837 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $28,000 after acquiring an additional 4,056,773 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 75.61% of the company’s stock.

ECL traded up $0.48 during trading on Friday, hitting $173.60. 1,059,198 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 1,060,685. The company has a market capitalization of $49.83 billion, a P/E ratio of 33.07, a PEG ratio of 2.31 and a beta of 0.89. Ecolab has a 1 year low of $132.25 and a 1 year high of $174.00. The company has a quick ratio of 0.85, a current ratio of 1.27 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.78.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, April 15th. Stockholders of record on Tuesday, March 19th will be issued a $0.46 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Monday, March 18th. This represents a $1.84 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.06%. Ecolab’s dividend payout ratio is presently 35.05%.

About Ecolab

Ecolab Inc provides water, hygiene, and energy technologies and services for customers worldwide. The company operates through Global Industrial, Global Institutional, and Global Energy segments. The Global Industrial segment provides water treatment and process applications, and cleaning and sanitizing solutions primarily to large industrial customers within the manufacturing, food and beverage processing, chemical, mining and primary metals, power generation, pulp and paper, and commercial laundry industries.

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