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Apollo Group Inc (APOL): Today's Featured Services 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.

Apollo Group ( APOL) pushed the Services sector lower today making it today's featured Services laggard. The sector as a whole closed the day down 0.1%. By the end of trading, Apollo Group fell 26 cents (-1.3%) to $20.04 on average volume. Throughout the day, 2.5 million shares of Apollo Group exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 2.8 million shares. The stock ranged in price between $20-$20.45 after having opened the day at $20.30 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $20.30. Other companies within the Services sector that declined today were: QKL Stores ( QKLS), down 16.3%, Daegis ( DAEG), down 10%, Excel Maritime Carriers ( EXM), down 9.3%, and China HGS Real Estate ( HGSH), down 9.2%.

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Apollo Group, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides online and on-campus educational programs and services at the undergraduate, master's, and doctoral levels. Apollo Group has a market cap of $2.27 billion and is part of the diversified services industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.2, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 3.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are four analysts that rate Apollo Group a buy, one analyst rates it a sell, and 11 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Apollo Group as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity and attractive valuation levels. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, feeble growth in the company's earnings per share and weak operating cash flow.

On the positive front, EZCorp ( EZPW), up 11.8%, Newlead Holdings ( NEWL), up 11.8%, Industrial Services of America ( IDSA), up 10.1%, and FreeSeas ( FREE), up 9.5%, were all gainers within the services sector with CSX ( CSX) being today's featured services sector leader.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the services sector could consider iShares Dow Jones US Cons Services ( IYC) while those bearish on the services sector could consider ProShares Ultra Short Consumer Sers ( SCC).

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