Encana Corp (ECA): Today's Featured Basic Materials Leader

Encana ( ECA) pushed the Basic Materials sector higher today making it today's featured basic materials leader. The sector as a whole closed the day down 1.7%. By the end of trading, Encana rose 57 cents (2.8%) to $21.11 on average volume. Throughout the day, 10.1 million shares of Encana exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 8.5 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $19.85-$21.27 after having opened the day at $20.09 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $20.54. Other companies within the Basic Materials sector that increased today were: Nexen ( NXY), up 51.8%, Whiting USA Trust I ( WHX), up 10.4%, China Natural Resources ( CHNR), up 9.5%, and Lucas Energy ( LEI), up 8.5%.

Encana Corporation and its subsidiaries engage in the exploration for, development, production, and marketing of natural gas, oil, and natural gas liquids. Encana has a market cap of $15.24 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 30.5, below the average energy industry P/E ratio of 414.4 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 10.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are two analysts that rate Encana a buy, one analyst rates it a sell, and 13 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Encana as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, expanding profit margins and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, feeble growth in the company's earnings per share and deteriorating net income.

On the negative front, Lizhan Environmental ( LZEN), down 19.2%, Recon Technology ( RCON), down 14.2%, BPZ Resources ( BPZ), down 9.3%, and Altair Nanotechnologies ( ALTI), down 8.8%, were all laggards within the basic materials sector with Anadarko Petroleum ( APC) being today's basic materials sector laggard.

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).