Ashland Inc. (NYSE:ASH) shares hit a new 52-week high during trading on Wednesday . The stock traded as high as $121.02 and last traded at $121.01, with a volume of 224,625 shares traded. The stock had previously closed at $120.42.

Several research analysts recently commented on ASH shares. TheStreet upgraded shares of Ashland from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Tuesday, March 15th. Jefferies Group restated a “buy” rating on shares of Ashland in a report on Wednesday, July 6th. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Ashland from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Tuesday, March 29th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group AG initiated coverage on shares of Ashland in a report on Thursday, March 24th. They set an “outperform” rating and a $118.00 target price for the company. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $125.63.

The company has a market capitalization of $7.52 billion and a P/E ratio of 35.22. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $114.97 and a 200-day moving average price of $106.49.

Ashland (NYSE:ASH) last released its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, April 27th. The company reported $1.83 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.74 by $0.09. The company earned $1.25 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.25 billion. The business’s revenue was down 7.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $2.03 EPS. On average, equities analysts forecast that Ashland Inc. will post $7.13 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, June 15th. Stockholders of record on Friday, June 3rd were paid a $0.39 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, June 1st. This represents a $1.56 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.29%.

In other news, CFO J Kevin Willis sold 1,183 shares of Ashland stock in a transaction on Wednesday, May 4th. The shares were 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 approximately $1,247,527.60. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, VP Anne T. Schumann sold 903 shares of Ashland stock in a transaction on Tuesday, July 12th. The shares were sold at an average price of $120.00, for a total transaction of $108,360.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

A number of hedge funds have made changes to their positions in ASH. ProShare Advisors LLC raised its stake in shares of 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 during the period. US Bancorp DE raised 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 worth $1,373,000 after buying an additional 1,598 shares during the period. Condor Capital Management raised 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 worth $1,620,000 after buying an additional 54 shares during the period. Gulf International Bank UK Ltd raised 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 worth $2,098,000 after buying an additional 170 shares during the period. Finally, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. raised its stake in shares of Ashland by 22.0% in the fourth quarter. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. now owns 25,854 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,657,000 after buying an additional 4,658 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.

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