Praxair Inc. (PX): Today's Featured Chemicals Laggard

Praxair ( PX) pushed the Chemicals industry lower today making it today's featured Chemicals laggard. The industry as a whole closed the day up 0.5%. By the end of trading, Praxair fell 73 cents (-0.7%) to $105.05 on average volume. Throughout the day, 1.3 million shares of Praxair exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.2 million shares. The stock ranged in price between $104.97-$105.95 after having opened the day at $105.95 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $105.78. Other company's within the Chemicals industry that declined today were: Gevo ( GEVO), down 8%, Green Plains Renewable Energy ( GPRE), down 7.8%, NL Industries ( NL), down 5.2%, and Ceres ( CERE), down 4.5%.

Praxair, Inc. engages in the production, distribution, and sale atmospheric and process gases, as well as surface coatings in North America, Europe, South America, and Asia. Praxair has a market cap of $30.73 billion and is part of the basic materials sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 18.5, equal to the average chemicals industry P/E ratio and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 2.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are nine analysts that rate Praxair a buy, one analyst rates it a sell, and seven rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Praxair as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its notable return on equity, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations, growth in earnings per share and increase in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated.

On the positive front, Cereplast ( CERP), up 6.5%, Braskem ( BAK), up 5.7%, Senomyx ( SNMX), up 5.4%, and Valhi Incorporated ( VHI), up 5.2%, were all gainers within the chemicals industry with Dow Chemical ( DOW) being today's featured chemicals industry leader.

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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