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Ashland (ASH) Down 4.2% Since Last Earnings Report: Can It Rebound?

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It has been about a month since the last earnings report for Ashland (ASH - Free Report) . Shares have lost about 4.2% in that time frame, outperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent negative trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is Ashland due for a breakout? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at its most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important drivers.

Ashland's Earnings and Revenues Surpass Estimates in Q2

Ashland recorded profits from continuing operations of $38 million or 66 cents per share in the second quarter of fiscal 2022 (ending Mar 31, 2022), up from $25 million or 40 cents in the prior-year quarter.

Barring one-time items, adjusted earnings came in at $1.50 per share, up from the year-ago quarter’s figure of 84 cents. It topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.36.
 
Sales rose around 19% year over year to $604 million, and beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $603.9 million. The top line was driven mainly by disciplined pricing actions leading to a recovery in costs in a high-inflation environment as well as better product mix. The company witnessed a double-digit year over year sales growth across its segments in the quarter. It benefited from strong demand across its end markets.

Segment Highlights

Life Sciences: Sales in the segment were up 10% year over year to $204 million in the reported quarter, aided by double-digit growth to pharmaceutical customers reflecting better product mix and cost recovery.

Personal Care: Sales in the division rose 26% year over year to $172 million. Sales were driven by the Schulke & Mayr acquisition as well as higher demand across core personal-care end markets, better mix and disciplined pricing.
 
Specialty Additives: Sales in the segment increased 15% year over year to $182 million, led by strong demand for architectural coatings and other additives, disciplined pricing and improved mix.

Intermediates: Sales in the segment went up 78% year over year to $66 million, led by higher prices in all product lines.

Financials

Cash and cash equivalents were $964 million at the end of the quarter, up around 158% year over year. Long-term debt was $1,336 million, down around 15% year over year.

Cash flows provided by operating activities were $16 million in the reported quarter, down from $38 million in the prior-year quarter.

Outlook

Ashland continues to expect sales in the range of $2.25-$2.35 billion for fiscal 2022. It also anticipates adjusted EBITDA between $550 million and $570 million.

The company noted that it sees underlying demand to remain strong for its focused ingredients and additives product portfolio. It expects its pricing and mix improvement actions to cover the current inflation. The company remains committed to take further measures to recover any additional cost inflation. It will also continue to build inventories to mitigate the supply-chain and shipping headwinds.

 

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

It turns out, fresh estimates flatlined during the past month.

VGM Scores

Currently, Ashland has a poor Growth Score of F, a grade with the same score on the momentum front. However, the stock was allocated a grade of C on the value side, putting it in the middle 20% for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of F. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.

Outlook

Ashland has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). We expect an above average return from the stock in the next few months.


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