Ashland Drops as Earnings Trail Estimates on Specialties

Ashland Inc., the biggest producer of specialty paper-making chemicals, fell the most in four months after posting earnings that trailed analysts’ estimates after sales volumes fell at its specialty-ingredients unit.

Ashland dropped 6 percent to $80.43 in New York, the biggest decline since Sept. 25.

Earnings excluding a benefit from an insurance settlement and other items were $1.12 a share in the fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 31, Covington, Kentucky-based Ashland said today in a statement. That compares with the $1.36 average of eight estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Ashland had a $31 million loss on straight guar, including an inventory writedown because of lower prices, which exceeded the company’s December forecast for a $25 million loss. Guar is a plant derivative used as a thickener in foods and in drilling fluids. Lower December sales volumes for coatings and construction products led to a 28 percent decline in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization at the specialty ingredients unit, the company said.