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Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (CLF): Today's Featured Basic Materials Winner

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

Cliffs Natural Resources ( CLF) pushed the Basic Materials sector higher today making it today's featured basic materials winner. The sector as a whole was unchanged today. By the end of trading, Cliffs Natural Resources rose $1.33 (7.2%) to $19.71 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 20,659,022 shares of Cliffs Natural Resources exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 9,909,400 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $18.38-$20.05 after having opened the day at $19.00 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $18.38. Other companies within the Basic Materials sector that increased today were: USEC ( USU), up 37.5%, Uranium Resources ( URRE), up 34.7%, Crosshair Energy ( CXZ), up 33.3% and Samson Oil & Gas ( SSN), up 12.2%.

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., a mining and natural resources company, engages in the production of iron ore pellets, fines and lump ore, and metallurgical coal. Cliffs Natural Resources has a market cap of $2.8 billion and is part of the metals & mining industry. Shares are down 52.6% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 3 analysts that rate Cliffs Natural Resources a buy, 3 analysts rate it a sell, and 9 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Cliffs Natural Resources as a hold. Among the primary strengths of the company is its generally strong cash flow from operations. At the same time, however, we also find weaknesses including disappointing return on equity, poor profit margins and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

On the negative front, Basic Energy Services ( BAS), down 11.3%, Cardero Resources Corporation ( CDY), down 7.3%, Camac Energy ( CAK), down 7.2% and Sterlite Industries (India ( SLT), down 7.2% , were all laggards within the basic materials sector with Eastman Chemical Company ( EMN) being today's basic materials sector laggard.

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

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