Ashland Inc. (NYSE:ASH) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research 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 research firms also recently weighed in on ASH. Jefferies Group restated a “buy” rating on shares of Ashland in a report on Tuesday, September 13th. Credit Suisse Group AG cut shares of Ashland from an “outperform” rating to a “neutral” rating and decreased their price target for the stock from $122.00 to $119.00 in a research note on Thursday, July 28th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, one has given a hold rating, five have issued a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company. Ashland currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $125.75.

Analyst Recommendations for Ashland (NYSE:ASH)

Ashland (NYSE:ASH) traded down 0.53% during midday trading on Friday, hitting $117.27. 781,906 shares of the stock were exchanged. The stock has a market cap of $7.28 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 39.13 and a beta of 1.11. Ashland has a 12-month low of $88.30 and a 12-month high of $125.00. The firm has a 50 day moving average of $117.72 and a 200-day moving average of $114.83.

Ashland (NYSE:ASH) last posted its earnings results on Tuesday, July 26th. The company reported $1.95 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $2.04 by $0.09. Ashland had a net margin of 3.86% and a return on equity of 15.90%. The business had revenue of $1.29 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.32 billion. During the same quarter last year, the business posted $1.91 earnings per share. On average, equities analysts expect that Ashland will post $6.81 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, September 15th. Investors of record on Friday, August 19th were given a $0.39 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, August 17th. This represents a $1.56 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.33%. Ashland’s dividend payout ratio is presently 51.32%.

In related news, VP Anne T. Schumann sold 496 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, July 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $121.61, for a total value of $60,318.56. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. 1.27% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its stake in Ashland by 1.7% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 4,760,801 shares of the company’s stock valued at $546,398,000 after buying an additional 77,778 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors boosted its position in shares of Ashland by 4.0% in the second quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 2,232,316 shares of the company’s stock worth $256,203,000 after buying an additional 85,205 shares during the period. 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 during the period. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. boosted its position in shares of Ashland by 0.7% in the second quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. now owns 1,897,399 shares of the company’s stock worth $217,764,000 after buying an additional 13,192 shares during the period. Finally, Neuberger Berman Group LLC boosted its position in shares of Ashland by 0.6% in the second quarter. Neuberger Berman Group LLC now owns 1,132,279 shares of the company’s stock worth $129,952,000 after buying an additional 7,095 shares during the period. 86.88% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Ashland

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.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:ASH

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