Ashland Global Holdings Inc. recently announced preliminary financial results for the first quarter of its 2021 fiscal year, which ended December 31, 2020. The global specialty materials company serves customers in a wide range of consumer and industrial markets. Sales were approximately $552 million, up 4% compared to the prior-year period, as growth was realized in all three of Ashland's business groups.

According to the company, its financial results during the quarter reflected execution of its strategy, solid overall demand, and the benefit of continued cost reduction. The result was improved sales and earnings, margin growth, and strong free cash flow generation.

"Ashland's financial results in the first quarter reflect our progress toward demonstrating strategic discipline, consistent organic growth, margin expansion and improved free cash flow conversion," said Guillermo Novo, chairman and CEO, Ashland. "Our industrial businesses continue to see strong demand recovery, and excluding specific mix actions, our core consumer businesses continue to demonstrate top-line resilience and growth. All business groups expanded margins compared to the prior-year period. Also, Ashland's free cash flow improved dramatically when compared to the prior year, reflecting the broad-based efforts by our teams to grow earnings and continue to improve working capital."

"I am pleased with the progress our team has made driving more consistent performance while delivering profitable growth and improved cash generation," continued Novo. "While the uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact global supply chains and consumer behavior, the continued progress made by our teams in the first-fiscal quarter gives me even more confidence in our ability to deliver consistent results. I look forward to sharing additional thoughts on our plans and the progress we have made during our earnings call tomorrow morning."

In the Industrial Specialties business group, which includes Ashland's Specialty Additives and Performance Adhesives segments, sales were $231 million in the 2021 first fiscal quarter, up 8% from the prior-year quarter. Growth was attributed to improving global demand for architectural coatings, construction, and adhesive applications. Foreign currency favorably impacted sales by 2%.

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