COVINGTON, KY - Ashland Inc. outlined its three-year growth strategy at a conference for analysts and investors in New York City.

"Ashland today is a fundamentally different company than we were several years ago," said James J. O'Brien, Ashland Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Since 2004, we have completely transformed our business portfolio by divesting most of our cyclical businesses and focusing on higher-margin, faster-growing segments comprising specialty ingredients, water technologies, performance materials and consumer markets. With Ashland's transformation now complete, we are focused on driving top-line growth and earnings expansion through organic volume growth, margin expansion, cost efficiencies and strategic capital allocation."

Financial targets the company has established for fiscal 2014 include: earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $1.7 billion, up from a pro forma $1.2 billion in fiscal 2011; EBITDA margin of 17-18 percent, up from pro forma 14.2 percent in fiscal 2011; estimated earnings per share from continuing operations in the $9.50-$10.50 range, up from adjusted earnings per share of $3.902 in fiscal 2011; and annual capital expenditures of approximately $350 million, up from $201 million in 2011.

Supporting that projected sales and earnings growth will be a broader focus on innovation and new technology across each of the company's four business units: Ashland Specialty Ingredients (ASI), Ashland Water Technologies (AWT), Ashland Performance Materials (APM) and Ashland Consumer Markets (ACM). For example, Specialty Ingredients, which accounts for just over 30 percent of Ashland's pro forma annual sales but more than half of the company's pro forma EBITDA, sees particularly attractive growth opportunities in the pharmaceutical, personal care and coatings markets.

Ashland's reinvention, and its impact on the company's financial performance, has been dramatic. In 2004, approximately 88 percent of Ashland's sales came from North America. Today, nearly half of the company's sales come from outside the United States, with approximately 20 percent coming from high-growth emerging markets such as Asia Pacific and Latin America. Ashland's strategic focus on specialty chemicals has helped fuel a dramatic improvement in operating margins, with pro forma EBITDA roughly doubling from $600 million in 2004 to $1.2 billion in fiscal 2011.

"This is an exciting time for Ashland and our 15,000 employees around the world," said O'Brien. "Working together, we have dramatically reshaped the company and positioned it for long-term success. I believe we have the right teams and strategy in place to drive sustainable sales and earnings growth across our portfolio of businesses in the years ahead. Now it is time to execute our plan and deliver the performance that all of us expect."