Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Ashland Inc. (NYSE:ASH) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report issued on Friday.

According to Zacks, “Ashland Inc. is a global leader in providing specialty chemical solutions to customers in a wide range of consumer and industrial markets, including architectural coatings, automotive, construction, energy, food and beverage, personal care and pharmaceutical. Through their three commercial units – Ashland Specialty Ingredients, Ashland Performance Materials and Valvoline – they use good chemistry to make great things happen for customers in more than 100 countries. “

Several other brokerages have also recently commented on ASH. Jefferies Group reiterated a buy rating on shares of Ashland in a research report on Tuesday, September 13th. Credit Suisse Group AG cut shares of Ashland from an outperform rating to a neutral rating and dropped their price target for the stock from $122.00 to $119.00 in a research report on Thursday, July 28th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, one has issued a hold rating and five have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $125.86.

Analyst Recommendations for Ashland (NYSE:ASH)

Ashland (NYSE:ASH) opened at 112.97 on Friday. The company has a 50-day moving average of $117.71 and a 200 day moving average of $115.04. The stock has a market cap of $7.02 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 37.69 and a beta of 1.11. Ashland has a 12-month low of $88.30 and a 12-month high of $125.00.

Ashland (NYSE:ASH) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, July 26th. The company reported $1.95 EPS for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $2.04 by $0.09. Ashland had a return on equity of 15.90% and a net margin of 3.86%. The business earned $1.29 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.32 billion. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted $1.91 earnings per share. Equities analysts anticipate that Ashland will post $6.81 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, September 15th. Investors of record on Friday, August 19th were paid a $0.39 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Wednesday, August 17th. This represents a $1.56 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.38%. Ashland’s dividend payout ratio is currently 51.32%.

In related news, VP Anne T. Schumann sold 496 shares of Ashland stock in a transaction dated Monday, July 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $121.61, for a total value of $60,318.56. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this link. 1.27% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

A number of institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of ASH. Geode Capital Management LLC boosted its position in shares of Ashland by 3.3% in the first quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 386,402 shares of the company’s stock worth $42,463,000 after buying an additional 12,191 shares in the last quarter. Loomis Sayles & Co. L P boosted its position in shares of Ashland by 97.4% in the first quarter. Loomis Sayles & Co. L P now owns 68,118 shares of the company’s stock worth $7,490,000 after buying an additional 33,605 shares in the last quarter. State Street Corp boosted its position in shares of Ashland by 2.5% in the first quarter. State Street Corp now owns 2,145,414 shares of the company’s stock worth $235,921,000 after buying an additional 51,438 shares in the last quarter. Pegasus Partners Ltd. bought a new position in shares of Ashland during the first quarter worth $263,000. Finally, Credit Agricole S A boosted its position in shares of Ashland by 60.7% in the first quarter. Credit Agricole S A now owns 12,069 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,327,000 after buying an additional 4,557 shares in the last quarter. 86.88% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Ashland Company Profile

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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