Ashland Inc. (NYSE:ASH) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research 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 analysts also recently issued reports on ASH. Jefferies Group restated a “buy” rating on shares of Ashland in a report on Wednesday, July 6th. Credit Suisse Group AG downgraded Ashland from an “outperform” rating to a “neutral” rating and cut their price objective for the stock from $122.00 to $119.00 in a report on Thursday, July 28th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, one has given a hold rating, five have given a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $125.75.

Analyst Recommendations for Ashland (NYSE:ASH)

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Shares of Ashland (NYSE:ASH) traded down 0.53% on Friday, reaching $117.27. 781,906 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged. The company has a market capitalization of $7.28 billion, a P/E ratio of 39.13 and a beta of 1.11. The firm’s 50 day moving average price is $117.72 and its 200-day moving average price is $114.83. Ashland has a 12 month low of $88.30 and a 12 month high of $125.00.

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

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, September 15th. Stockholders of record on Friday, August 19th were issued 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 dividend yield of 1.33%. Ashland’s dividend payout ratio is 51.32%.

In related news, VP Anne T. Schumann sold 903 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, July 12th. The stock was sold at an average price of $120.00, for a total value of $108,360.00. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. 1.27% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Several large investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Geode Capital Management LLC boosted its stake 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 valued at $42,463,000 after buying an additional 12,191 shares during the last quarter. Loomis Sayles & Co. L P boosted its stake 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 valued at $7,490,000 after buying an additional 33,605 shares during the last quarter. State Street Corp boosted its stake 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 valued at $235,921,000 after buying an additional 51,438 shares during the last quarter. Pegasus Partners Ltd. purchased a new stake in shares of Ashland during the first quarter valued at approximately $263,000. Finally, Credit Agricole S A boosted its stake 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 valued at $1,327,000 after buying an additional 4,557 shares during the last quarter. 86.88% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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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