MFA Financial Inc. (MFA): Today's Featured Financial Winner

MFA Financial ( MFA) pushed the Financial sector higher today making it today's featured financial winner. The sector as a whole closed the day down 1.1%. By the end of trading, MFA Financial rose 12 cents (1.6%) to $7.61 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 8.2 million shares of MFA Financial exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 3.5 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $7.45-$7.62 after having opened the day at $7.49 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $7.49. Other companies within the Financial sector that increased today were: Crescent Financial ( CRFN), up 31.9%, Patriot National Bancorp ( PNBK), up 16.3%, Alliance Bankshares ( ABVA), up 10.6%, and Manhattan Bridge Capital ( LOAN), up 9.8%.

MFA Financial, Inc., a real estate investment trust (REIT), invests in residential agency and non-agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS). MFA Financial has a market cap of $2.67 billion and is part of the real estate industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 8.3, equal to the average real estate industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 11.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are nine analysts that rate MFA Financial a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and three rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates MFA Financial as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, attractive valuation levels and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including generally poor debt management, a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share.

On the negative front, Central Federal ( CFBK), down 37.2%, Alto Palermo ( APSA), down 32.4%, Princeton National Bancorp ( PNBC), down 15.1%, and Central Virginia Bankshares ( CVBK), down 13.6%, were all losers within the financial sector with U.S. Bancorp ( USB) being today's financial sector loser.

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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