BoA Downgrades Ashland to 'Underperform'

Analyst Tyler Dann says the 154,000 active asbestos claims against the petroleum refiner will likely cast a pall over the stock

Banc of America downgraded Ashland (ASH ) to underperform from market perform.

In a 10 a.m. conference call, the company says the magnitude of asbestos claims did not justify Thursday's stock sell-off: The company lost about $400 million in market value on Thursday. Ashland says it expects about 85% of all claims and legal fees, to be reimbursed by insurers, although it refused to provide details.

Still, analyst Tyler Dann thinks the 154,000 active asbestos-related claims against the company, which are related to a business sold in 1990, will likely cast a pall over the stock until the company resolves and quantifies the claims. Although he thinks plaintiff claims may increase, he doesn't see more than a nominal impact to the company's finances.

Dann also notes that the replacement for the recently-resigned CEO will probably, at minimum, take longer than previously expected.

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