SLM

(

SLM

) pushed the Financial sector higher today making it today's featured financial winner. The sector as a whole closed the day up 0.3%. By the end of trading, SLM rose 34 cents (2.2%) to $15.63 on average volume. Throughout the day, five million shares of SLM exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 4.4 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $15.19-$15.77 after having opened the day at $15.32 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $15.30. Other companies within the Financial sector that increased today were:

Royal Bancshares of Pennsylvania

(

RBPAA

), up 19.3%,

Monarch Community Bancorp

(

MCBF

), up 18.3%,

American Independence Corporation

(

AMIC

), up 11.2%, and

Credit Suisse

(

DGAZ

), up 9.3%.

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SLM Corporation, through its subsidiaries, originates, acquires, finances, and services private education loans in the United States. It offers processing capabilities to educational institutions, 529 college-savings plan program management services, and a consumer savings network. SLM has a market cap of $7.65 billion and is part of the

financial services

industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 9.5, equal to the average financial services industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 14.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are six analysts that rate SLM a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and none rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates SLM as a

buy

. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, attractive valuation levels, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated.

On the negative front,

First Financial Service Corporation

(

FFKY

), down 19.5%,

Broadway Financial

(

BYFC

), down 17.8%,

Carver Bancorp

(

CARV

), down 12.1%, and

Homex Development

(

HXM

), down 9.2%, were all laggards within the financial sector with

Invesco

(

IVZ

) being today's financial sector laggard.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the financial sector could consider

Financial Select Sector SPDR

(

XLF

) while those bearish on the financial sector could consider

Proshares Short Financials

(

SEF

).

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