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Agrium Inc (AGU): Today's Featured Chemicals Winner

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

Agrium (AGU) pushed the Chemicals industry higher today making it today's featured chemicals winner. The industry as a whole closed the day down 0.6%. By the end of trading, Agrium rose $1.88 (1.8%) to $105.52 on light volume. Throughout the day, 665,362 shares of Agrium exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of one million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $104.09-$106.04 after having opened the day at $104.35 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $103.64. Other companies within the Chemicals industry that increased today were: Pacific Ethanol (PEIX), up 5.9%, Flexible Solutions International (FSI), up 5.1%, Cereplast (CERP), up 5%, and Clean Diesel Technologies (CDTI), up 3.5%.

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Agrium Inc. engages in the retail of agricultural products and services worldwide. The company operates in three segments: Retail, Wholesale, and Advanced Technologies. Agrium has a market cap of $16.48 billion and is part of the basic materials sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 10.1, below the average chemicals industry P/E ratio of 11 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 55.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are 16 analysts that rate Agrium a buy, one analyst rates it a sell, and six rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Agrium as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

On the negative front, Renewable Energy Group (REGI), down 7.5%, Gevo (GEVO), down 5.2%, Kraton Performance Polymers (KRA), down 4.4%, and Metabolix (MBLX), down 3.8%, were all laggards within the chemicals industry with LyondellBasell Industries (LYB) being today's chemicals industry laggard.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the chemicals industry could consider Materials Select Sector SPDR (XLB) while those bearish on the chemicals industry could consider ProShares Short Basic Materials Fd (SBM).

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