Stepan Co. (NYSE:SCL) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a note issued to investors on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Stepan Company produces specialty and intermediate chemicals which are sold to other manufacturers and then made into a variety of end products. They have three reportable segments: surfactants, polymers and specialty products. “

A number of other brokerages also recently weighed in on SCL. TD Securities lowered their price objective on shares of Stepan from $39.00 to $37.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a research report on Friday, August 12th. Seaport Global Securities boosted their price objective on shares of Stepan from $66.00 to $70.00 and gave the company a “neutral” rating in a research report on Wednesday, August 24th. Finally, National Bank Financial raised shares of Stepan from a “sector perform” rating to an “outperform” rating and boosted their price objective for the company from $32.00 to $37.00 in a research report on Monday, August 15th. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company. Stepan has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $48.60.

Analyst Recommendations for Stepan (NYSE:SCL)

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Shares of Stepan (NYSE:SCL) opened at 70.07 on Wednesday. The stock’s 50 day moving average is $69.13 and its 200-day moving average is $61.28. Stepan has a 52-week low of $40.72 and a 52-week high of $72.54. The firm has a market capitalization of $1.57 billion, a P/E ratio of 17.21 and a beta of 1.22.

Stepan (NYSE:SCL) last released its earnings results on Wednesday, July 20th. The company reported $1.31 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.17 by $0.14. The company earned $454.60 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $453.45 million. Stepan had a net margin of 5.29% and a return on equity of 16.78%. The company’s revenue was up .5% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $0.91 EPS. On average, equities analysts forecast that Stepan will post ($0.34) earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, September 15th. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, August 31st were given a $0.19 dividend. This represents a $0.76 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.08%. The ex-dividend date was Monday, August 29th. Stepan’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 18.67%.

In other Stepan news, VP Frank Pacholec sold 1,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, September 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $72.00, for a total value of $108,000.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now owns 51,489 shares in the company, valued at approximately $3,707,208. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, VP Gregory Servatius sold 1,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, June 23rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $61.60, for a total transaction of $61,600.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now owns 24,731 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,523,429.60. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 14.40% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Norges Bank purchased a new position in Stepan during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $13,923,000. Virginia Retirement System bought a new stake in shares of Stepan during the first quarter worth $1,360,000. Teachers Advisors Inc. raised its stake in shares of Stepan by 1.7% in the first quarter. Teachers Advisors Inc. now owns 32,500 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,797,000 after buying an additional 531 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Group LTD raised its stake in shares of Stepan by 7.4% in the first quarter. BlackRock Group LTD now owns 27,986 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,547,000 after buying an additional 1,937 shares in the last quarter. Finally, BlackRock Fund Advisors raised its stake in shares of Stepan by 0.6% in the first quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 1,170,488 shares of the company’s stock worth $64,716,000 after buying an additional 6,952 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 59.84% of the company’s stock.

Stepan Company Profile

Stepan Company produces specialty and intermediate chemicals, which are sold to other manufacturers and used in a variety of end products. The Company has three segments: Surfactants, Polymers and Specialty Products. The Company’s Surfactants segment offers products, which are principal ingredients in consumer and industrial cleaning products, such as detergents for washing clothes, dishes, carpets, floors and walls, as well as shampoos and body washes.

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