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. “

ASH has been the topic of several other reports. Credit Suisse Group AG downgraded shares of Ashland from an “outperform” rating to a “neutral” rating and cut their price objective for the company from $122.00 to $119.00 in a research report on Thursday, July 28th. Jefferies Group restated a “buy” rating on shares of Ashland in a research report on Thursday, August 4th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, one has assigned a hold rating, five have given a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $125.75.

Analyst Recommendations for Ashland (NYSE:ASH)

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

Ashland (NYSE:ASH) last issued its quarterly earnings data 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. The firm earned $1.29 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.32 billion. Ashland had a net margin of 3.86% and a return on equity of 15.90%. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $1.91 earnings per share. Analysts predict 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. Investors 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 payout ratio is currently 51.32%.

In related news, VP Anne T. Schumann sold 496 shares of the business’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 filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. 1.27% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Creative Planning increased its stake in Ashland by 87.4% in the second quarter. Creative Planning now owns 997 shares of the company’s stock worth $114,000 after buying an additional 465 shares during the last quarter. Global X Management Co. LLC increased its position in Ashland by 104.9% in the second quarter. Global X Management Co. LLC now owns 994 shares of the company’s stock valued at $114,000 after buying an additional 509 shares during the period. Advisor Group Inc. purchased a new position in Ashland during the second quarter valued at $135,000. Chicago Partners Investment Group LLC increased its position in Ashland by 200.0% in the second quarter. Chicago Partners Investment Group LLC now owns 1,500 shares of the company’s stock valued at $172,000 after buying an additional 1,000 shares during the period. Finally, Northstar Group Inc. purchased a new position in Ashland during the second quarter valued at $200,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 86.88% of the company’s stock.

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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