Ashland has announced a first quarter 2010 net income of $86m from sales worth just over $2bn. At the same time, sales at the company’s Distribution division fell 15 per cent year-onyear to $729m while volume per day decreased 8 per cent versus the prior-year quarter. Volume was down just 4 per cent “despite typical December-quarter seasonality”. Meanwhile, gross profit as a percentage of sales came to 9.2 per cent as opposed to 8.6 per cent a year ago. Margin improvements and SG&A expense reductions, the company continues, did not fully offset the impact of volume reductions and as a result EBITDA declined 28 per cent year-on-year to $13m and was 1.8 per cent of sales.