OppenheimerFunds Inc. trimmed its position in shares of Ashland Inc. (NYSE:ASH) by 9.2% during the fourth quarter, according to its most recent disclosure with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The institutional investor owned 17,418 shares of the basic materials company’s stock after selling 1,761 shares during the period. OppenheimerFunds Inc.’s holdings in Ashland were worth $1,240,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.
A number of other institutional investors have also recently made changes to their positions in ASH. Schroder Investment Management Group grew its stake in Ashland by 30.7% during the third quarter. Schroder Investment Management Group now owns 1,463,395 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $95,999,000 after buying an additional 344,160 shares in the last quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. grew its stake in Ashland by 32.6% during the third quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. now owns 1,117,605 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $73,078,000 after buying an additional 274,617 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. grew its stake in Ashland by 3.0% during the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 5,268,006 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $375,081,000 after buying an additional 151,606 shares in the last quarter. Retirement Systems of Alabama grew its stake in Ashland by 84.5% during the third quarter. Retirement Systems of Alabama now owns 222,417 shares of the basic materials company’s stock worth $14,544,000 after buying an additional 101,892 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Cipher Capital LP acquired a new stake in Ashland during the third quarter worth about $6,381,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 93.57% of the company’s stock.
NYSE:ASH opened at $68.60 on Friday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.76, a quick ratio of 1.29 and a current ratio of 1.96. Ashland Inc. has a one year low of $59.80 and a one year high of $77.16. The company has a market cap of $4,307.48, a P/E ratio of 28.11, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.16 and a beta of 1.15.
Ashland (NYSE:ASH) last posted its earnings results on Monday, January 29th. The basic materials company reported $0.42 EPS for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $0.43 by ($0.01). Ashland had a positive return on equity of 7.14% and a negative net margin of 0.08%. The business had revenue of $842.00 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $842.05 million. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $1.16 earnings per share. analysts expect that Ashland Inc. will post 3.2 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.
Ashland declared that its board has initiated a stock repurchase program on Tuesday, March 20th that permits the company to buyback $1.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization permits the basic materials company to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are generally an indication that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.
The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, March 15th. Investors of record on Thursday, March 1st were given a dividend of $0.225 per share. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, February 28th. This represents a $0.90 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.31%. Ashland’s dividend payout ratio is presently 36.89%.
In other Ashland news, VP Keith C. Silverman sold 1,678 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, March 26th. The shares were sold at an average price of $70.02, for a total transaction of $117,493.56. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now owns 1,358 shares in the company, valued at approximately $95,087.16. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, insider William J. Heitman sold 4,495 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, February 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $70.31, for a total transaction of $316,043.45. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 15,152 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,065,337.12. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders have sold 26,413 shares of company stock worth $1,918,021. 1.14% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.
A number of equities research analysts have recently weighed in on ASH shares. Jefferies Group restated a “buy” rating on shares of Ashland in a research note on Tuesday, January 30th. BMO Capital Markets started coverage on shares of Ashland in a research note on Tuesday, March 27th. They issued an “outperform” rating and a $82.00 price target on the stock. Seaport Global Securities restated a “buy” rating and issued a $81.00 price target on shares of Ashland in a research note on Wednesday, January 31st. Longbow Research upgraded shares of Ashland from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note on Monday, March 26th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group raised their price target on shares of Ashland from $69.00 to $74.00 and gave the company a “neutral” rating in a research note on Wednesday, January 31st. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have assigned a hold rating and eight have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $83.44.
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Ashland Global Holdings Inc provides specialty chemical solutions worldwide. Its Specialty Ingredients segment provides products, technologies, and resources for solving formulation and product-performance challenges. It offers solutions using natural, synthetic, and semisynthetic polymers derived from plant and seed extract, cellulose ethers, vinyl pyrrolidones, and acrylic polymers, as well as polyester and polyurethane-based adhesives.
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