Ashland Inc. (NYSE:ASH) Brief Interest Update

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Ashland Inc. (NYSE: ASH- Get a rating) was the target of a sharp fall in short-term interest rates in August. As of August 31, there was short interest totaling 991,600 shares, down 16.7% from the total of 1,190,000 shares as of August 15. Currently, 1.8% of the company’s shares are sold short. Based on an average daily volume of 440,500 shares, the day-to-cover ratio is currently 2.3 days.

Institutional entries and exits

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently changed their holdings in the company. ACG Wealth purchased a new stake in Ashland during Q2 worth approximately $28,000. Hallmark Capital Management Inc. acquired a new stake in Ashland stock during the second quarter worth approximately $29,000. National Bank of Canada FI increased its position in Ashland shares by 245.3% during the first quarter. National Bank of Canada FI now owns 328 shares of the basic materials company worth $32,000 after buying 233 more shares last quarter. Prospera Financial Services Inc acquired a new equity stake in Ashland during the first quarter worth approximately $35,000. Finally, Kenfarb & CO. acquired a new position in Ashland in Q4 valued at around $39,000. 93.26% of the shares are currently held by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Changes to analyst ratings

ASH has been the subject of several analyst reports. StockNews.com upgraded Ashland’s shares from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a Tuesday, September 13 research note. UBS Group raised its price target on Ashland shares from $127.00 to $131.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a Wednesday, July 27 report. Credit Suisse Group began covering Ashland shares in a Monday, September 12 report. They issued an “outperform” rating and a price target of $120.00 for the company. Mizuho raised its price target on Ashland shares from $138.00 to $139.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a Tuesday, July 19 research note. Finally, Wells Fargo & Company lowered its price target on Ashland stock from $113.00 to $107.00 and set an “equal weight” rating on the stock in a Monday 18 research note. July. Three equity research analysts gave the stock a hold rating and seven gave the stock a buy rating. According to data from MarketBeat, Ashland currently has an average rating of “Moderate Buy” and a consensus price target of $123.33.

Ashland shares down 0.4%

Shares of Ashland traded down $0.38 in Friday trading, hitting $98.73. 1,466,944 shares of the stock traded in hands, compared to its average volume of 335,820. The company has a market capitalization of $5.35 billion, a P/E ratio of 6.21 and a beta of 1, 01. The company has a current ratio of 3.30, a quick ratio of 2.20 and a debt ratio of 0.40. Ashland has a 52-week low of $83.29 and a 52-week high of $112.91. The stock’s fifty-day simple moving average is $102.67 and its 200-day simple moving average is $101.12.

Ashland (NYSE:ASH- Get a rating) last released its quarterly results on Tuesday, July 26. The basic materials company reported earnings per share (EPS) of $1.89 for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimate of $1.67 by $0.22. Ashland had a net margin of 38.83% and a return on equity of 10.33%. In the same period a year earlier, the company earned earnings per share of $1.22. On average, stock analysts predict Ashland will post earnings per share of 5.66 for the current fiscal year.

Ashland said its board approved a stock repurchase program on Wednesday, May 25 that allows the company to repurchase $500.00 million in stock. This repurchase authorization allows the commodity company to purchase up to 8.7% of its shares through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs usually indicate that the management of the company believes that its shares are undervalued.

Ashland Dividend Announcement

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, September 15. Investors of record on Thursday, September 1 received a dividend of $0.335 per share. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, August 31. This represents a dividend of $1.34 on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.36%. Ashland’s payout ratio is currently 8.43%.

About Ashland

(Get a rating)

Ashland Inc supplies additives and specialty ingredients worldwide. It operates through the life sciences; personal care and housekeeping; Specialty Additives; and the Intermediates and Solvents segments. The Life Sciences segment offers pharmaceutical solutions, including controlled release polymers, disintegrants, tablet coatings, thickeners, solubilizers and tablet binders; nutritional solutions, such as thickeners, stabilizers, emulsifiers and additives; and nutraceutical solutions including products for weight management, joint comfort, stomach and intestinal health, sports nutrition and general wellness, as well as custom formulation, custom treatment solutions and particle engineering.

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