Principal Financial Group (PFG): Today's Featured Financial Services Laggard

Principal Financial Group ( PFG) pushed the Financial Services industry lower today making it today's featured Financial Services laggard. The industry as a whole closed the day up 1.4%. By the end of trading, Principal Financial Group fell 65 cents (-2.5%) to $24.98 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 7.5 million shares of Principal Financial Group exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 2.3 million shares. The stock ranged in price between $24.26-$25.54 after having opened the day at $24.82 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $25.63. Other company's within the Financial Services industry that declined today were: Direct Markets Holdings ( MKTS), down 9.9%, Millennium India Acquisition Corporation ( SMCG), down 9.4%, BGC Partners ( BGCP), down 3.5%, and Credit Suisse ( DSLV), down 2.9%.

Principal Financial Group, Inc. provides retirement savings, investment, and insurance products and services. Principal Financial Group has a market cap of $7.52 billion and is part of the financial sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 11.1, below the average financial services industry P/E ratio of 11.4 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 4.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are eight analysts that rate Principal Financial Group a buy, two analysts rate it a sell, and seven rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Principal Financial Group as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, attractive valuation levels, notable return on equity and increase in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

On the positive front, SWS Group ( SWS), up 8.4%, Community Bankers Trust Corporation ( BTC), up 8%, Raymond James Financial ( RJF), up 7.3%, and Oppenheimer Holdings Inc. Shs -A- Non-Voti ( OPY), up 7.2%, were all gainers within the financial services industry with BlackRock ( BLK) being today's featured financial services industry leader.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the financial services industry could consider Financial Select Sector SPDR ( XLF) while those bearish on the financial services industry could consider Proshares Short Financials ( SEF).
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