Ashland Inc (ASH): Today's Featured Chemicals Winner

Ashland ( ASH) 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 56 cents (0.8%) to $66.95 on light volume. Throughout the day, 432,360 shares of Ashland exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 680,100 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $65.92-$67.10 after having opened the day at $65.99 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $66.39. Other companies within the Chemicals industry that increased today were: Balchem Corporation ( BCPC), up 9.6%, Senomyx ( SNMX), up 8.6%, Pure Bioscience ( PURE), up 8.3%, and Landec Corporation ( LNDC), up 7.8%.

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 $5.16 billion and is part of the basic materials sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 119.8, above the average chemicals industry P/E ratio of 42.2 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 16.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are nine analysts that rate Ashland a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and none rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ashland as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

On the negative front, Altair Nanotechnologies ( ALTI), down 11.3%, Sino Clean Energy ( SCEI), down 9.4%, BioFuel Energy Corporation ( BIOF), down 5.1%, and Kraton Performance Polymers ( KRA), down 4.8%, were all losers within the chemicals industry with Celanese Corporation ( CE) being today's chemicals industry loser.

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 ( XLB) while those bearish on the chemicals industry could consider ProShares Short Basic Materials Fd ( SBM).
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