Legg Mason Inc. (LM): Today's Featured Financial Laggard

Legg Mason ( LM) pushed the Financial sector lower today making it today's featured Financial laggard. The sector as a whole closed the day up 1.5%. By the end of trading, Legg Mason fell 27 cents (-1.1%) to $24.86 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 5.3 million shares of Legg Mason exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of two million shares. The stock ranged in price between $23.31-$25.19 after having opened the day at $25.07 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $25.13. Other company's within the Financial sector that declined today were: Porter Bancorp ( PBIB), down 11.8%, Carver Bancorp ( CARV), down 10.4%, Direct Markets Holdings ( MKTS), down 9.9%, and Stratus Properties ( STRS), down 9.9%.

Legg Mason, Inc. provides asset management and related financial services to institutional and individual clients, company-sponsored mutual funds, and other pooled investment vehicles worldwide. Legg Mason has a market cap of $3.47 billion and is part of the financial services industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 16.1, 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 4.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are five analysts that rate Legg Mason a buy, one analyst rates it a sell, and eight rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Legg Mason as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, attractive valuation levels and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

On the positive front, Hampton Roads Bankshares ( HMPR), up 23.1%, SYSWIN ( SYSW), up 17.6%, National Bank of Greece ( NBG), up 13.6%, and First Financial Service Corporation ( FFKY), up 12.5%, were all gainers within the financial sector with Wells Fargo ( WFC) being today's featured financial sector leader.

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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