Ashland ( ASH ) narrowed its second-quarter loss and beat analysts expectations, thanks to a record quarter at its chemical unit. Based on continuing operations, the Kentucky-based construction and chemicals company lost $11 million, or 16 cents a share, down from $37 million, or 54 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts expected a loss of $22 million, or 18 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call. Revenue rose to $1.84 billion vs. $1.68 billion in the year-ago period. Overall, the company lost $16 million, or 23 cents a share, vs. $39 million, or 57 cents a share, a year ago. That includes what the company described as "ongoing quarterly charges of nearly $5 million for asbestos liabilities." Operating income at its chemical unit more than doubled to $62 million. In particular, its Valvoline motor oil business reported quarterly operating income of $24 million, up 33% from a year ago. Shares closed at $48.11 Friday.