Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Stepan (NYSE:SCL) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note issued to investors on Thursday.

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 analysts also recently issued reports on SCL. Stifel Nicolaus started coverage on Stepan in a report on Monday, December 10th. They issued a buy rating and a $94.00 price target on the stock. TD Securities reissued a neutral rating and issued a $27.00 price target on shares of Stepan in a report on Wednesday, November 7th. Finally, Seaport Global Securities reissued a hold rating and issued a $95.00 price target on shares of Stepan in a report on Monday, November 5th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have issued a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the company’s stock. Stepan presently has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $78.75.

NYSE:SCL opened at $77.25 on Thursday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.34, a quick ratio of 1.90 and a current ratio of 2.49. Stepan has a 52 week low of $68.09 and a 52 week high of $90.96. The company has a market cap of $1.74 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 15.70 and a beta of 1.14.

Stepan (NYSE:SCL) last released its earnings results on Wednesday, October 24th. The basic materials company reported $1.11 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.00 by $0.11. Stepan had a return on equity of 15.02% and a net margin of 4.78%. The company had revenue of $508.00 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $504.20 million. During the same quarter last year, the business posted $0.92 EPS. Stepan’s quarterly revenue was up 4.1% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, research analysts forecast that Stepan will post 4.63 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, December 14th. Investors of record on Friday, November 30th were issued a $0.25 dividend. This is an increase from Stepan’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.23. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, November 29th. This represents a $1.00 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.29%. Stepan’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 21.51%.

In related news, VP Arthur W. Mergner sold 1,500 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $83.75, for a total value of $125,625.00. Following the sale, the vice president now owns 9,225 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $772,593.75. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Also, Director Edward J. Wehmer sold 1,400 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, October 29th. The stock was sold at an average price of $84.91, for a total value of $118,874.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last three months, insiders sold 8,955 shares of company stock worth $746,456. Company insiders own 12.60% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the business. Northern Trust Corp raised its stake in Stepan by 10.0% during the 2nd quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 307,891 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $24,019,000 after acquiring an additional 28,066 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. raised its stake in Stepan by 6.7% during the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 2,810,899 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $219,279,000 after acquiring an additional 176,940 shares in the last quarter. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS bought a new stake in Stepan during the 2nd quarter valued at $329,000. Bank of Montreal Can raised its stake in Stepan by 30.3% during the 3rd quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 43,630 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $3,796,000 after acquiring an additional 10,144 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Martingale Asset Management L P raised its stake in Stepan by 4.2% during the 2nd quarter. Martingale Asset Management L P now owns 75,229 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $5,869,000 after acquiring an additional 3,001 shares in the last quarter. 67.83% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Stepan

Stepan Company, together with its subsidiaries, produces and sells specialty and intermediate chemicals to other manufacturers for use in various end products worldwide. The company operates through three segments: Surfactants, Polymers, and Specialty Products. The Surfactants segment offers surfactants that are used as principal ingredients in consumer and industrial cleaning products, including detergents for washing clothes, dishes, carpets, and floors and walls, as well as shampoos and body washes; and other applications, such as fabric softeners, germicidal quaternary compounds, and lubricating ingredients.

Recommended Story: The risks of owning bonds

Get a free copy of the Zacks research report on Stepan (SCL)

For more information about research offerings from Zacks Investment Research, visit Zacks.com

Receive News & Ratings for Stepan Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for Stepan and related companies with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.