Marathon Oil

(

MRO

) 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, Marathon Oil rose 41 cents (1.6%) to $25.29 on average volume. Throughout the day, eight million shares of Marathon Oil exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 6.7 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $24.80-$25.44 after having opened the day at $24.80 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $24.88. Other companies within the Basic Materials sector that increased today were:

China Shen Zhou Mining & Resources

(

SHZ

), up 21.2%,

Extorre Gold Mines

(

XG

), up 17.5%,

Recon Technology

(

RCON

), up 15.2%, and

USEC

(

USU

), up 10.1%.

Marathon Oil Corporation operates as an energy company worldwide. The company operates in three segments: Exploration and Production, Oil Sands Mining, and Integrated Gas. Marathon Oil has a market cap of $17.29 billion and is part of the

energy

industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 10.5, above the average energy industry P/E ratio of 7.4 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 15% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are six analysts that rate Marathon Oil a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and nine rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Marathon Oil as a

hold

. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, attractive valuation levels and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, weak operating cash flow and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

On the negative front,

Geokinetics

(

GOK

), down 14.1%,

Ossen Innovation

(

OSN

), down 9.8%,

Entree Gold

(

EGI

), down 6.3%, and

HyperDynamics Corporation

(

HDY

), down 5.3%, were all losers within the basic materials sector with

Schlumberger

(

SLB

) being today's basic materials sector loser.

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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