Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Stepan (NYSE:SCL) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report published on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Stepan Company is a major manufacturer of specialty and intermediate chemicals used in a broad range of industries. Stepan is a leading producer of surfactants, which are the key ingredients in consumer and industrial cleaning compounds. The Company is also a leading supplier of polyurethane polyols used in the expanding thermal insulation market and C.A.S.E. (Coatings, Adhesives, Sealants, and Elastomers) industries. “

Several other equities research analysts also recently weighed in on SCL. National Bank Financial increased their price objective on Stepan from $35.00 to $36.00 in a report on Monday, November 13th. Scotiabank raised Stepan from an underperform rating to a sector perform rating and set a $32.00 price objective for the company in a report on Tuesday, November 14th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have given a hold rating, three have assigned a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $35.60.

Stepan (NYSE:SCL) opened at $81.91 on Wednesday. The company has a market cap of $1,844.12, a P/E ratio of 17.58 and a beta of 1.15. Stepan has a one year low of $68.75 and a one year high of $92.97. The company has a quick ratio of 2.08, a current ratio of 2.46 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.36.

Stepan (NYSE:SCL) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, February 22nd. The basic materials company reported $1.06 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.67 by $0.39. The company had revenue of $473.82 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $457.95 million. Stepan had a net margin of 4.76% and a return on equity of 15.20%. The firm’s revenue was up 12.6% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $0.52 earnings per share. equities research analysts anticipate that Stepan will post 5.17 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, March 15th. Stockholders of record on Monday, March 5th will be issued a $0.225 dividend. This represents a $0.90 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.10%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, March 2nd. Stepan’s payout ratio is currently 22.96%.

In other news, VP Jennifer Ansbro Hale sold 2,044 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, February 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of $77.25, for a total value of $157,899.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now directly owns 6,131 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $473,619.75. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. 13.10% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of SCL. CIBC Asset Management Inc acquired a new stake in shares of Stepan in the fourth quarter valued at approximately $209,000. Segall Bryant & Hamill LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Stepan in the fourth quarter valued at approximately $240,000. Landscape Capital Management L.L.C. acquired a new stake in shares of Stepan in the fourth quarter valued at approximately $282,000. Cubist Systematic Strategies LLC boosted its holdings in shares of Stepan by 42.0% in the third quarter. Cubist Systematic Strategies LLC now owns 3,759 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $314,000 after acquiring an additional 1,111 shares during the period. Finally, Crossmark Global Holdings Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of Stepan in the third quarter valued at approximately $350,000. 63.03% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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About Stepan

Stepan Company produces specialty and intermediate chemicals, which are sold to other manufacturers and used in a range of end products. The Company operates through three segments: Surfactants, Polymers and Specialty Products. The Company’s principal markets include manufacturers of cleaning and washing compounds (including detergents, shampoos, fabric softeners, toothpastes and household cleaners), paints, cosmetics, food, beverages, nutritional supplements, agricultural products and plastics.

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