Shares of Ashland Inc. (NYSE:ASH) reached a new 52-week high during mid-day trading on Wednesday . The company traded as high as $123.17 and last traded at $123.15, with a volume of 393,853 shares traded. The stock had previously closed at $120.98.

A number of research firms have recently issued reports on ASH. Jefferies Group reaffirmed a “buy” rating on shares of Ashland in a report on Wednesday, July 6th. Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Ashland from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Monday, July 4th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group AG started coverage on shares of Ashland in a research note 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 assigned a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company. Ashland presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $125.63.

The stock’s 50-day moving average price is $116.32 and its 200-day moving average price is $107.22. The stock has a market cap of $7.55 billion and a PE ratio of 35.38.

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

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, September 15th. Stockholders of record on Friday, August 19th will be paid a $0.39 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, August 17th. This represents a $1.56 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.28%.

In related news, CFO J Kevin Willis sold 1,183 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, May 4th. The shares were sold at an average price of $110.99, for a total transaction of $131,301.17. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief financial officer now directly owns 11,240 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,247,527.60. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, VP Anne T. Schumann sold 496 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Monday, July 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $121.61, for a total transaction of $60,318.56. The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

A number of institutional investors recently bought and sold shares of ASH. ProShare Advisors LLC boosted its position in Ashland by 12.7% in the fourth quarter. ProShare Advisors LLC now owns 11,028 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,133,000 after buying an additional 1,243 shares during the last quarter. US Bancorp DE boosted its position in 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 last quarter. Condor Capital Management boosted its position in 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 last quarter. Gulf International Bank UK Ltd boosted its position in 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 last quarter. Finally, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. boosted its position in Ashland by 22.0% in the fourth quarter. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. now owns 25,854 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,657,000 after buying an additional 4,658 shares during the last quarter.

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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