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You're probably already familiar with cleaning and sanitation product maker
ECL), even if you don't already realize it. Ecolab is one of the biggest names in commercial cleaning products, which means that if you've ever eaten at a restaurant or stayed in a hotel, there's a good chance that ECL's offerings were used on site.
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Institutional and commercial sanitation is an afterthought for many consumers, but it's paramount for businesses. Because businesses stake their reputations on cleanliness, they're less likely to switch to unfamiliar rivals -- especially because of the relatively trivial costs of Ecolab's offerings and the dispensing hardware that many facilities already have installed. The firm's huge commission-based sales force is the lynchpin of Ecolab's success.
Ecolab ramped up its debt load to purchase water treatment specialist Nalco in 2011 and chemical maker Champion Technologies last year, but balance sheet leverage is still pretty reasonable right now. Analyst are getting bullish on Ecolab again this week -- and so are we.
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-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.