Agrium Inc (AGU): Today's Featured Chemicals Winner

Agrium ( AGU) pushed the Chemicals industry higher today making it today's featured chemicals winner. The industry as a whole closed the day up 0.2%. By the end of trading, Agrium rose $1.56 (1.7%) to $91.55 on average volume. Throughout the day, 1.3 million shares of Agrium exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of one million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $89.46-$92.32 after having opened the day at $89.69 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $89.99. Other companies within the Chemicals industry that increased today were: BioFuel Energy Corporation ( BIOF), up 17.7%, Pacific Ethanol ( PEIX), up 12.1%, Lizhan Environmental ( LZEN), up 8.3%, and Verenium Corporation ( VRNM), up 7.5%.

Agrium Inc. engages in the retail of agricultural products and services worldwide. The company operates in three segments: Retail, Wholesale, and Advanced Technologies. Agrium has a market cap of $14.07 billion and is part of the basic materials sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 9.4, below the average chemicals industry P/E ratio of 10.4 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 32.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 16 analysts that rate Agrium a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and six rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Agrium as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, attractive valuation levels, good cash flow from operations, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

On the negative front, Cereplast ( CERP), down 6.3%, Green Plains Renewable Energy ( GPRE), down 6%, Gulf Resources ( GURE), down 5.1%, and Quaker Chemical Corporation ( KWR), down 4.2%, were all losers within the chemicals industry with Dow Chemical ( DOW) being today's chemicals industry loser.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the chemicals industry could consider Materials Select Sector SPDR ( XLB) while those bearish on the chemicals industry could consider ProShares Short Basic Materials Fd ( SBM).
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