Ashland Inc. (NYSE:ASH) shares gapped down before the market opened on Friday . The stock had previously closed at $113.58, but opened at $114.26. Ashland shares last traded at $117.74, with a volume of 178,861 shares.

ASH has been the subject of a number of recent analyst reports. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Ashland from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, March 29th. TheStreet upgraded Ashland from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Tuesday, March 15th. Jefferies Group reiterated a “buy” rating on shares of Ashland in a research report on Wednesday. Finally, Credit Suisse Group AG initiated coverage on Ashland in a research report on Thursday, March 24th. They issued an “outperform” rating and a $118.00 price target for the company. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $125.63.

The company has a 50 day moving average price of $114.35 and a 200 day moving average price of $106.15. The firm has a market capitalization of $7.32 billion and a PE ratio of 34.29.

Ashland (NYSE:ASH) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, April 27th. The company reported $1.83 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.74 by $0.09. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $2.03 EPS. The business earned $1.25 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.25 billion. Ashland’s revenue for the quarter was down 7.6% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities research analysts predict that Ashland Inc. will post $7.13 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, June 15th. Investors of record on Friday, June 3rd were issued a $0.39 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Wednesday, June 1st. This represents a $1.56 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.32%.

In related news, CFO J Kevin Willis sold 1,183 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, May 4th. The stock was sold at an average price of $110.99, for a total value of $131,301.17. Following the completion of the sale, the chief financial officer now owns 11,240 shares in the company, valued at $1,247,527.60. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website.

A number of large investors recently added to or reduced their stakes in ASH. ProShare Advisors LLC increased its stake in Ashland by 12.7% in the fourth quarter. ProShare Advisors LLC now owns 11,028 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,133,000 after buying an additional 1,243 shares in the last quarter. US Bancorp DE increased its stake in shares of Ashland by 13.6% in the fourth quarter. US Bancorp DE now owns 13,361 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,373,000 after buying an additional 1,598 shares during the period. Daiwa Securities Group Inc. increased its stake in shares of Ashland by 6.3% in the fourth quarter. Daiwa Securities Group Inc. now owns 13,600 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,397,000 after buying an additional 800 shares during the period. Condor Capital Management increased its stake in shares of Ashland by 0.3% in the fourth quarter. Condor Capital Management now owns 15,770 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,620,000 after buying an additional 54 shares during the period. Finally, Gulf International Bank UK Ltd increased its stake in shares of Ashland by 0.8% in the fourth quarter. Gulf International Bank UK Ltd now owns 20,433 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,098,000 after buying an additional 170 shares during the period.

Ashland Inc is engaged in specialty chemicals, and through Valvoline, is a consumer-branded lubricant supplier. The Company operates in three segments: Ashland Specialty Ingredients (Specialty Ingredients), Ashland Performance Materials (Performance Materials) and Valvoline. Its Specialty Ingredients segment is engaged in providing cellulose ethers, vinyl pyrrolidones and biofunctionals, and consists of two divisions: Consumer Specialties and Industrial Specialties.

Get Analysts' Upgrades and Downgrades Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of analysts' upgrades, downgrades and new coverage with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.