Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model





) pushed the Chemicals industry higher today making it today's featured chemicals winner. The industry as a whole closed the day up 0.1%. By the end of trading, Ashland rose $2.41 (3.5%) to $71.15 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 1.3 million shares of Ashland exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 772,900 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $69.17-$72.79 after having opened the day at $69.65 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $68.74. Other companies within the Chemicals industry that increased today were:

Green Plains Renewable Energy



), up 28.2%,

Quaker Chemical Corporation



), up 11.6%,

American Pacific Corporation



), up 5.8%, and

TOR Minerals International



), up 5.3%.

  • ACTIVE STOCK TRADERS: Get full access to Jim Cramer's thoughts for less than $3/week - sometimes before he says them on TV! Start with a 14-Day Free Trial.

Ashland Inc. operates as a specialty chemicals company in the United States and internationally. It operates through four segments: Specialty Ingredients, Water Technologies, Performance Materials, and Consumer Markets. Ashland has a market cap of $5.4 billion and is part of the basic materials sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 137.5, above the average chemicals industry P/E ratio of 29 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 20.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are eight analysts that rate Ashland a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and one rates it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ashland as a


. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, increase in net income, good cash flow from operations, solid stock price performance and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

On the negative front,

Altair Nanotechnologies



), down 14%,

Verenium Corporation



), down 8.8%,

BioFuel Energy Corporation



), down 7.8%, and

Gulf Resources



), down 6.8%, were all laggards within the chemicals industry with

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company



) being today's chemicals industry laggard.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the chemicals industry could consider

Materials Select Sector SPDR



) while those bearish on the chemicals industry could consider

ProShares Short Basic Materials Fd




FREE from Real Money's Jim Cramer: Winners and Losers Election 2012 - Steps to take NOW so you can profit no matter who is in charge!

Free download now