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

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.

Ashland ( ASH) pushed the Chemicals industry higher today making it today's featured chemicals winner. The industry as a whole closed the day up 0.6%. By the end of trading, Ashland rose $2.15 (2.8%) to $77.90 on average volume. Throughout the day, 742,191 shares of Ashland exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 802,700 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $75.98-$77.99 after having opened the day at $76.10 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $75.75. Other companies within the Chemicals industry that increased today were: Tronox ( TROX), up 10.2%, Metabolix ( MBLX), up 7.5%, Gevo ( GEVO), up 4%, and Omnova Solutions ( OMN), up 3.8%.
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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 $6 billion and is part of the basic materials sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 158.5, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 32.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are eight analysts that rate Ashland a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and none rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ashland as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations and solid stock price performance. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including disappointing return on equity and poor profit margins.

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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