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Apache Corporation



) pushed the Basic Materials sector higher today making it today's featured basic materials winner. The sector as a whole closed the day up 0.4%. By the end of trading, Apache Corporation rose 90 cents (1.1%) to $83.57 on light volume. Throughout the day, 2.6 million shares of Apache Corporation exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 3.4 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $82.44-$83.92 after having opened the day at $83.48 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $82.67. Other companies within the Basic Materials sector that increased today were:

BioFuel Energy Corporation



), up 40.6%,

Pacific Ethanol



), up 33.7%,

Recovery Energy



), up 20%, and

Lizhan Environmental



), up 19.5%.

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Apache Corporation, an independent energy company, explores for, develops, and produces natural gas, crude oil, and natural gas liquids. Apache Corporation has a market cap of $32.8 billion and is part of the


industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 7.9, equal to the average energy industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 8.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are 19 analysts that rate Apache Corporation a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and four rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Apache Corporation as a


. 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 and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including unimpressive growth in net income, a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share.

On the negative front,

James River Coal Company



), down 13.2%,

Cubic Energy



), down 10%,

Weatherford International



), down 8.8%, and

Energy Services of America Corporation



), down 8.2%, were all laggards within the basic materials sector with

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners



) 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



) while those bearish on the basic materials sector could consider

ProShares Short Basic Materials Fd