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Praxair Inc. (PX): Today's Featured Chemicals Laggard

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.

Praxair (PX) pushed the Chemicals industry lower today making it today's featured Chemicals laggard. The industry as a whole closed the day up 0.3%. By the end of trading, Praxair fell $1.24 (-1.2%) to $104.29 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 2.2 million shares of Praxair exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.1 million shares. The stock ranged in price between $104.28-$105.79 after having opened the day at $105.70 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $105.53. Other companies within the Chemicals industry that declined today were: Pure Bioscience (PURE), down 13.7%, Cereplast (CERP), down 8.2%, Solazyme (SZYM), down 7.8%, and Verenium Corporation (VRNM), down 4.5%.

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Praxair, Inc. engages in the production, distribution, and sale atmospheric and process gases, as well as surface coatings in North America, Europe, South America, and Asia. Praxair has a market cap of $31.56 billion and is part of the basic materials sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 18.9, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 1.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 10 analysts that rate Praxair a buy, one analyst rates it a sell, and five rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Praxair as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in stock price during the past year, increase in net income, notable return on equity, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

On the positive front, Pacific Ethanol (PEIX), up 8.1%, Synthesis Energy Sys (SYMX), up 6.8%, Williams Partners (WPZ), up 6.8%, and Rentech (RTK), up 4.4%, were all gainers within the chemicals industry with Eastman Chemical Company (EMN) being today's featured chemicals industry leader.

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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