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

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

Ashland ( ASH) pushed the Chemicals industry lower today making it today's featured Chemicals laggard. The industry as a whole closed the day up 0.7%. By the end of trading, Ashland fell $1.10 (-1.1%) to $94.19 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 1,608,643 shares of Ashland exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 640,600 shares. The stock ranged in price between $92.71-$95.95 after having opened the day at $93.84 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $95.29. Other companies within the Chemicals industry that declined today were: Olin Corporation ( OLN), down 4.2%, Rentech Nitrogen Partners ( RNF), down 3.7%, Penford Corporation ( PENX), down 2.8% and Quaker Chemical Corporation ( KWR), down 1.9%.

Ashland Inc. operates as a specialty chemicals company worldwide. The company operates through four segments: Ashland Specialty Ingredients, Ashland Water Technologies, Ashland Performance Materials, and Ashland Consumer Markets. Ashland has a market cap of $7.4 billion and is part of the basic materials sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 11.2, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 1.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are 4 analysts that rate Ashland a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 5 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ashland as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, attractive valuation levels, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations and notable return on equity. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook.

On the positive front, Kraton Performance Polymers ( KRA), up 15.6%, Lightbridge ( LTBR), up 8.2%, REX American Resources ( REX), up 7.9% and Omnova Solutions ( OMN), up 6.4% , were all gainers within the chemicals industry with CF Industries Holdings ( CF) being today's featured chemicals industry leader.

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).

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12-months. Learn more.

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