Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Albemarle Co. (NYSE:ALB) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report published on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Albemarle Corporation is a major producer of fine and performance chemicals including polymer intermediates, cleaning product intermediates and additives, agricultural chemical intermediates, pharmaceutical intermediates, catalysts, brominated flame retardants, bromine chemicals and potassium and chlorine chemicals. “

Several other research firms have also recently weighed in on ALB. Royal Bank of Canada initiated coverage on shares of Albemarle in a research report on Thursday, February 23rd. They issued an outperform rating and a $114.00 price objective for the company. Instinet raised their price objective on shares of Albemarle from $92.00 to $102.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Friday, January 6th. Citigroup Inc cut shares of Albemarle from a buy rating to a neutral rating and raised their price objective for the company from $104.77 to $112.00 in a research report on Monday, March 6th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Jefferies Group LLC restated a buy rating and issued a $102.00 price objective on shares of Albemarle in a research report on Friday, January 6th. Finally, Goldman Sachs Group Inc restated a conviction-buy rating and issued a $116.00 price objective on shares of Albemarle in a research report on Thursday, January 12th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, nine have issued a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. Albemarle has an average rating of Buy and an average target price of $109.73.

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Shares of Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) opened at 106.07 on Wednesday. The stock’s 50 day moving average is $97.41 and its 200-day moving average is $88.12. Albemarle has a 12-month low of $60.34 and a 12-month high of $106.53. The firm has a market cap of $11.94 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.66 and a beta of 1.41.

Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Monday, February 27th. The company reported $0.78 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.73 by $0.05. The firm earned $696.70 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $642.68 million. Albemarle had a net margin of 6.92% and a return on equity of 14.38%. The company’s quarterly revenue was down 3.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $1.03 EPS. On average, analysts anticipate that Albemarle will post $4.18 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, April 3rd. Investors of record on Wednesday, March 15th will be paid a dividend of $0.32 per share. This is a positive change from Albemarle’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.31. The ex-dividend date is Monday, March 13th. This represents a $1.28 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.21%. Albemarle’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 63.54%.

In related news, EVP Karen G. Narwold sold 392 shares of Albemarle stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, January 6th. The shares were sold at an average price of $90.59, for a total transaction of $35,511.28. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 22,284 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,018,707.56. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, CFO Scott Tozier sold 1,057 shares of Albemarle stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, January 6th. The stock was sold at an average price of $90.62, for a total transaction of $95,785.34. Following the transaction, the chief financial officer now directly owns 29,722 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,693,407.64. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 3,991 shares of company stock worth $361,246 in the last three months. 0.71% of the stock is owned by insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Mitsubishi UFJ Securities Holdings Co. Ltd. purchased a new position in Albemarle during the third quarter valued at $104,000. Creative Planning raised its position in Albemarle by 16.8% in the third quarter. Creative Planning now owns 1,228 shares of the company’s stock valued at $105,000 after buying an additional 177 shares during the last quarter. Van ECK Associates Corp raised its position in Albemarle by 97.7% in the fourth quarter. Van ECK Associates Corp now owns 1,360 shares of the company’s stock valued at $117,000 after buying an additional 672 shares during the last quarter. Carroll Financial Associates Inc. raised its position in Albemarle by 475.4% in the third quarter. Carroll Financial Associates Inc. now owns 1,381 shares of the company’s stock valued at $118,000 after buying an additional 1,141 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Benjamin F. Edwards & Company Inc. raised its position in Albemarle by 0.3% in the third quarter. Benjamin F. Edwards & Company Inc. now owns 1,443 shares of the company’s stock valued at $123,000 after buying an additional 5 shares during the last quarter. 86.50% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Albemarle

Albemarle Corporation is a developer, manufacturer and marketer of specialty chemicals across a range of end markets, including the petroleum refining, consumer electronics, energy storage, construction, automotive, steel and aerospace, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, crop protection, household appliances, heating, ventilation, aluminum finishing, food safety and custom chemistry services.

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