This column was originally published on RealMoney on Mar. 19, 2008 at 1:00 p.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers. For more information about subscribing to RealMoney, please click here.

Government economic reports can do more than just indicate the state of the economy. Since many of the reports include industry-level data, digging deeper in the reports can help investors find specific industries to consider more closely.

For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which prepares the PPI report, provides detailed information on an industry basis. The problem is figuring out how to find it on their Web site. Starting at the

PPI homepage, I scroll down to the headline that says "Get Detailed PPI Statistics," then click on "

industry data."

You can then pick out which industries you want to see (I pick them all) and click "retrieve data." I then select "more formatting options," and click on the boxes for 12-month percent change, all years, and include graphs. Once I hit "retrieve data" again, I have what I'm looking for: graphs that make it easy to tell which industries are gaining or losing their pricing power.

Since I wrote about the PPI data

in September, the pricing power has shifted to some different industries. Therefore, I thought an update would be in order.

As I pointed out last month, year-over-year price increases for petroleum refineries have suddenly shot straight up. In January, the gain was 48.8%, and in February it was 42.8%.

I still like

Frontier

(FTO)

, but the news is also positive for:

Valero

Sunoco

Tesoro

Western Refining

Holly

Delek

CVR Energy

Be warned, however, that the

crack spreads are acting funny these days.

Year-to-Year Price Increase for Petroleum Refiners

Click here for larger image.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Prices for industrial gases surged 15.5% in January and 10.3% in February. Some of the leading companies in this space are

Praxair

(PX)

,

Air Products

(APD) - Get Report

and

Airgas

(ARG)

.

Year-to-Year Price Increase for Industrial Gas Manufacturing

Click here for larger image.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Shifting gears a bit, let's look at electronic computer manufacturing. Pricing power is about as bad as it can get for these guys, with the 20.1% decline in February being comparable to prior cyclical troughs.

Depending on your point of view, this could either be a bearish signal or a contrary bullish one. Either way, the companies most affected are obviously

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

,

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

and

Hewlett Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

.

Year-to-Year Price Increase for Electronic Computer Manufacturing

Click here for larger image.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Ever wonder why Robert Marcin

is so bullish on hard-drive makers? They are one of the industries that had pricing power back in September and have managed to maintain it. The 2.1% year-over-year decline is the best on record.

Of course, there's a contrarian way to play that as well. Names include:

Brocade

EMC

Iomega

Hutchinson

Quantum

SanDisk

Seagate

Western Digital

Year-to-Year Price Increase for Computer Storage Device Manufacturing

Click here for larger image.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Finally, after grinding to a halt, line-haul railroads have picked up steam. This is good for Warren Buffett,

Burlington Northern

(BNI)

,

CSX

(CSX) - Get Report

,

Union Pacific

(UNP) - Get Report

and

Norfolk Southern

(NSC) - Get Report

.

Year-to-Year Price Increase for Line Haul Railroads

Click here for larger image.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

So there you have it. Twenty-six stock tips from the U.S. Government. As with any stock tip, this is a starting place for further research. But it is a starting place that I have frequently found to be a useful one.

This column was originally published on

RealMoney

. For more information about subscribing to

RealMoney,

please click here.

At the time of publication, Trent had no positions in the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.

William A. Trent, CFA, is a freelance equity analyst based in the New York metro area. He has been an equity analyst since 1996 and is co-author of

Understanding and Evaluating Prospectuses, Offering Documents, and Proxy Statements

. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Trent appreciates your feedback;

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to send him an email.