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Ashland Shares Rally On Return To Profit

By Jim Jelter Shares of Ashland Inc. (ASH) surged more than 10% early Tuesday after the specialty chemical maker reported a convincing return to profitability in its fiscal first quarter. For the three months ended Dec. 31, Ashland posted income of $86 million, or $1.10 a share, reversing a year-ago loss of $119 million, or 73 cents a share. The results reflect aggressive cost-cutting over the past year and incorporate earnings from Ashland's acquisition of fellow chemical maker Hercules, which it completed Oct. 1. The year-ago quarter included one-time items that knocked $1.98 a share from its bottom line, making the year-on-year comparisons even more dramatic. Sales for the latest quarter rose to $2.02 billion from $1.97 billion. Excluding one-time items, the company's operating income from continuing operations was 97 cents a share, easily topping the 73 cents analysts polled by FactSet Research had expected. Ashland shares, which initially rose 10.5% on the news, were recently trading at $43.15, up $3.52, or 8.9% "Modest growth in underlying demand, gross margin increases in all of our commercial units, and our continued focus on cost reductions contributed to this improved performance," said Chief Executive James O'Brien. "Each of our businesses is currently showing some signs of demand improvement and stable or improving margins. Although raw material cost increases may well occur during the fiscal year, our continued emphasis on pricing and cost management should support both increased profitability and growth as the economy recovers," he added. Shares of the Covington, Ky.-based company are up a whopping 358% over the past 12 months from a low of $5.35 in early March 2009. -By Jim Jelter; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

Stock News for Ashland (ASH)
DateTimeHeadline
06/24/201607:01:00Ashland Enlists Distribution Expert HORN to Support Oil and Gas...
06/20/201616:27:06Current Report Filing (8-k)
06/20/201616:00:15Ashland reports equity inducement award for new Valvoline chief...
06/20/201615:03:26Securities Registration: Employee Benefit Plan (s-8)
06/17/201608:57:35Annual Report of Employee Stock Plans (11-k)
06/17/201608:56:16Annual Report of Employee Stock Plans (11-k)
06/17/201608:54:52Annual Report of Employee Stock Plans (11-k)
06/07/201608:09:59Current Report Filing (8-k)
06/07/201608:00:28Ashland announces hiring of Mary Meixelsperger as chief financial...
06/01/201609:42:00U.S. Hot Stocks: Hot Stocks to Watch
05/31/201618:50:00Ashland Moves to Reorganize as Valvoline Files for IPO
05/31/201616:47:31Current Report Filing (8-k)
05/31/201616:38:58Ashland Inc. provides update on its planned separation of Valvoline
05/31/201613:42:04Specialized Disclosure Report (sd)
05/18/201616:40:40Ashland Inc. board declares regular quarterly dividend
05/16/201611:50:00Nearly 1 in 4 Valvoline Instant Oil Change(SM) Customer Vehicles...
05/06/201613:17:03Statement of Changes in Beneficial Ownership (4)
05/05/201618:14:58Statement of Changes in Beneficial Ownership (4)
05/04/201617:21:07Statement of Changes in Beneficial Ownership (4)
04/26/201617:12:39Current Report Filing (8-k)

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