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 down 0.6%. By the end of trading, Ashland fell $1.12 (-1.2%) to $94.37 on average volume. Throughout the day, 662,182 shares of Ashland exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 708,700 shares. The stock ranged in price between $94.12-$96.00 after having opened the day at $95.67 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $95.49. Other companies within the Chemicals industry that declined today were: BioFuel Energy Corporation ( BIOF), down 15.9%, Synthesis Energy Sys ( SYMX), down 10.8%, Lightbridge ( LTBR), down 10.1% and Pacific Ethanol ( PEIX), down 8.5%.

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. Shares are down 1.6% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. 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 solid stock price performance, reasonable valuation levels, notable return on equity, growth in earnings per share and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

On the positive front, Quaker Chemical Corporation ( KWR), up 5.2%, Platform Specialty Products ( PAH), up 4.0%, Ikonics Corporation ( IKNX), up 3.6% and Marrone Bio Innovations ( MBII), up 2.9% , were all gainers within the chemicals industry with Monsanto Company ( MON) 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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