Ascena Retail Group Inc. (ASNA): Today's Featured Services Winner

Ascena Retail Group ( ASNA) pushed the Services sector higher today making it today's featured services winner. The sector as a whole closed the day down 1.7%. By the end of trading, Ascena Retail Group rose 60 cents (3.2%) to $19.52 on average volume. Throughout the day, 2.7 million shares of Ascena Retail Group exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of two million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $18.77-$19.68 after having opened the day at $18.77 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $18.92. Other companies within the Services sector that increased today were: Peoples Educational Holdings ( PEDH), up 27%, Fresh Market ( TFM), up 14.9%, Booz Allen Hamilton ( BAH), up 13.3%, and Digital Generation ( DGIT), up 9.6%.

Ascena Retail Group, Inc. operates as a specialty retailer of apparel for women and tween girls in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada. The company operates its stores under the dressbarn, maurices, and Justice brand names. Ascena Retail Group has a market cap of $2.91 billion and is part of the retail industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 15.8, equal to the average retail industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 154.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are seven analysts that rate Ascena Retail Group a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and three rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ascena Retail Group as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, revenue growth, solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share and increase in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

On the negative front, China Metro-Rural Holdings ( CNR), down 21.1%, Pep Boys - Manny Moe & Jack ( PBY), down 19.8%, Magal Security Systems ( MAGS), down 16.5%, and SinoHub ( SIHI), down 15.6%, were all losers within the services sector with Walgreen Company ( WAG) being today's services sector loser.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the services sector could consider iShares Dow Jones US Cons Services ( IYC) while those bearish on the services sector could consider ProShares Ultra Short Consumer Sers ( SCC).
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