Jana Partners Barry Rosenstein

JANA Partners has filed a 13D with the SEC showing a 7.4 percent stake in Ashland Inc. (NYSE: ASH). The activist hedge fund now holds 5,813,787 Shares making it the largest shareholder in the Chemicals company after Fidelity which holds close to 8 million shares. The value oriented hedge fund run by Barry Rosenstein started purchasing shares of the company on February 12th at a price of $77.87. Shares of Ashland Inc. (NYSE: ASH) closed in Thursday’s trading session at $78.83, and are trading up 5.92 percent to $83.50 in after hours trading.

The 13D does not state any specific requests by JANA Partners. However, the hedge fund is well known for its activism and likely plans to implement some changes at Ashland. The 13D merely states JANA Partners ‘acquired the Shares because it believes the Shares are undervalued and represent an attractive investment opportunity. The Reporting Person has had discussions with the Issuer’s management relating to, among other things, the Issuer’s business, corporate structure, capitalization, operations, strategy and future plans. The Reporting Person expects to continue to have such discussions with the Issuer’s management as well as with the Issuer’s board of directors, shareholders and other parties relating to such matters, and may take other steps seeking to bring about changes to increase shareholder value as well as pursue other plans or proposals.’

Headquartered in Covington, Kentucky, Ashland is a diversified transportation and chemical company serving the construction, chemical, petrochemical, industrial, transportation, marine, and many other markets. Ashland is a provider of specialty chemical products, services and solutions, operating in four business units: Ashland Specialty Ingredients, Ashland Water Technologies, Ashland Performance Materials, and Ashland Consumer Markets (Valvoline).

For the three months ended 31 December 2012, Ashland Inc. (NYSE: ASH) revenues decreased 3% to $1.87B. Net income before extraordinary items increased 70% to $102M. Revenues reflect Performance Materials segment decrease of 9% to $345M, Water Technologies segment decrease of 6% to $421M, Functional/Specialty Ingredients segment decrease of 1% to $622M, North America segment decrease of 3% to $971.9M, Europe segment decrease of 3% to $504.6M.