Stock analysts at Morgan Stanley began coverage on shares of Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) in a report issued on Tuesday, Marketbeat.com reports. The brokerage set an “equal weight” rating and a $140.00 price target on the basic materials company’s stock. Morgan Stanley’s price target would indicate a potential upside of 6.75% from the company’s previous close.

A number of other research analysts also recently weighed in on the company. Canaccord Genuity reaffirmed a “buy” rating and set a $135.00 price target on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Monday, May 1st. Oppenheimer Holdings, Inc. reaffirmed an “outperform” rating and set a $141.00 price target (up from $133.00) on shares of Ecolab in a research note on Friday, June 2nd. J P Morgan Chase & Co raised Ecolab from a “neutral” rating to an “overweight” rating and upped their price target for the stock from $120.00 to $138.00 in a research note on Friday, May 26th. Zacks Investment Research downgraded Ecolab from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Thursday, July 27th. Finally, Deutsche Bank AG upped their price target on Ecolab from $132.00 to $134.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Wednesday, August 2nd. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating and eight have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $133.87.

Shares of Ecolab (ECL) traded down 0.24% during midday trading on Tuesday, reaching $131.15. The company had a trading volume of 824,033 shares. The stock’s 50 day moving average is $132.19 and its 200-day moving average is $127.96. Ecolab has a 12-month low of $110.65 and a 12-month high of $134.89. The stock has a market capitalization of $37.95 billion, a PE ratio of 29.98 and a beta of 0.98.

Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, August 1st. The basic materials company reported $1.13 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.12 by $0.01. Ecolab had a return on equity of 18.93% and a net margin of 9.66%. The business had revenue of $3.46 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $3.40 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $1.08 EPS. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.4% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities research analysts predict that Ecolab will post $4.80 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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In other Ecolab news, EVP Michael A. Hickey sold 13,700 shares of the stock in a transaction on Tuesday, May 30th. The stock was sold at an average price of $131.30, for a total transaction of $1,798,810.00. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, EVP Christophe Beck sold 6,959 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, May 19th. The shares were sold at an average price of $127.11, for a total value of $884,558.49. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 42,419 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $5,391,879.09. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders have sold 44,810 shares of company stock valued at $5,897,361. 1.49% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

A number of institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in ECL. State of Alaska Department of Revenue purchased a new position in shares of Ecolab during the first quarter valued at $134,000. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA raised its position in shares of Ecolab by 269.4% in the first quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA now owns 191,189 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $23,964,000 after buying an additional 139,434 shares during the period. State Street Corp raised its position in shares of Ecolab by 0.3% in the first quarter. State Street Corp now owns 11,935,943 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $1,496,059,000 after buying an additional 31,277 shares during the period. YHB Investment Advisors Inc. raised its position in shares of Ecolab by 0.6% in the first quarter. YHB Investment Advisors Inc. now owns 112,954 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $14,581,000 after buying an additional 649 shares during the period. Finally, Bell Bank raised its position in shares of Ecolab by 6.7% in the first quarter. Bell Bank now owns 4,706 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $590,000 after buying an additional 297 shares during the period. 75.73% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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.

Analyst Recommendations for Ecolab (NYSE:ECL)

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