Ecopetrol S.A. (EC): Today's Featured Basic Materials Winner

Ecopetrol S.A ( EC) pushed the Basic Materials sector higher today making it today's featured basic materials winner. The sector as a whole closed the day down 1.1%. By the end of trading, Ecopetrol S.A rose 82 cents (1.4%) to $58.43 on average volume. Throughout the day, one million shares of Ecopetrol S.A exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 711,800 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $56.82-$58.62 after having opened the day at $57 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $57.61. Other companies within the Basic Materials sector that increased today were: Chemtura Corporation ( CHMT), up 15.1%, Tesoro Corporation ( TSO), up 14.3%, Atlatsa Resources ( ATL), up 13.2%, and Geokinetics ( GOK), up 13%.

Ecopetrol S.A., an integrated oil company, engages in the exploration, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas. As of December 31, 2011, its proved reserves of crude oil and natural gas totaled 1,856.7 million barrels of oil equivalent. Ecopetrol S.A has a market cap of $117.66 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 9.5, below the average energy industry P/E ratio of 11.2 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 28.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there is one analyst that rates Ecopetrol S.A a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and three rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ecopetrol S.A as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook.

On the negative front, GeoGlobal Resources ( GGR), down 16.7%, Hornbeck Offshore Services ( HOS), down 14.1%, World Fuel Services Corporation ( INT), down 13.4%, and Stone Energy Corporation ( SGY), down 13.2%, were all laggards within the basic materials sector with Apache Corporation ( APA) 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).