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 Basic Materials sector higher today making it today's featured basic materials winner. The sector as a whole closed the day down 0.4%. By the end of trading, Agrium rose $2.36 (2.4%) to $99.18 on average volume. Throughout the day, 1.1 million shares of Agrium exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.1 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $96.76-$99.35 after having opened the day at $97.12 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $96.82. Other companies within the Basic Materials sector that increased today were:

China Precision Steel

(

CPSL

), up 44.6%,

Molycorp

(

MCP

), up 13.8%,

General Steel Holdings

(

GSI

), up 11.5%, and

Double Eagle Petroleum Company

(

DBLE

), up 8.9%.

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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 $15.41 billion and is part of the

chemicals

industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 9.5, below the average chemicals industry P/E ratio of 10.3 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 44.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are 17 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,

BP Prudhoe Bay Royalty

(

BPT

), down 17.9%,

Lizhan Environmental

(

LZEN

), down 11.7%,

Dejour Energy

(

DEJ

), down 9.2%, and

Permian Basin Royalty

(

PBT

), down 7.9%, were all laggards within the basic materials sector with

Baker Hughes

(

BHI

) 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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