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Ashland Q2 Profit Tumbles On Charges - Update

Specialty chemicals company Ashland Inc. (ASH) on Tuesday reported a plunge in profit for the second quarter, weighed down by items.

Net income plunged to $88 million or $1.10 per share from last year's $485 million or $6.02 per share. On a per share basis, income from continuing operations dropped to $1.13 from $2.26. The prior-year included income from discontinued operations of $303 million.

The latest results were hurt by $0.39 per share in items related to the acquisition of International Specialty Products Inc. last August, expenses associated with Ashland's integration and cost-reduction program and a write-off related to pre-construction costs for a greenfield manufacturing facility in China.

The year-ago results included items that had a combined positive impact of $1.29 per share.

Excluding key items, Ashland's adjusted earnings from continuing operations rose to $1.52 per share from $0.97 per share.

On average, 10 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings per share of $1.39 for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Sales for the quarter improved to $2.08 billion from $1.56 billion in the prior-year quarter, meeting analysts' expectations.

On an adjusted basis, Ashland Specialty Ingredients reported sales of $723 million, up 11 percent from last year, with all businesses performing well. Particularly impressive performance came from the Energy, Construction and Specialty Performance businesses.

Ashland Performance Materials had improved pricing and stronger demand in the North American market.

James O'Brien, Ashland chairman and CEO, said, "Our overall business continues to perform well, with increased sales, stable margins and improved cash flow during the quarter despite some market weakness in certain commercial units."

We are well on track for the year and remain confident in our ability to deliver our fiscal 2014 financial targets for sales and earnings growth, O'Brien added.

ASH closed on Monday at $63.59, compared to $64.28 in the previous session, on a volume of 1.27 million shares.

by RTT Staff Writer

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