Airgas Inc (ARG): Today's Featured Wholesale Winner

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

Airgas ( ARG) pushed the Wholesale industry higher today making it today's featured wholesale winner. The industry as a whole closed the day up 0.7%. By the end of trading, Airgas rose $1.43 (1.7%) to $86.01 on average volume. Throughout the day, 506,945 shares of Airgas exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 517,300 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $84.50-$86.19 after having opened the day at $84.85 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $84.58. Other companies within the Wholesale industry that increased today were: China Auto Logistics ( CALI), up 12.4%, Armco Metals Holdings ( CNAM), up 9.5%, Olympic Steel ( ZEUS), up 6.2%, and Navarre Corporation ( NAVR), up 5.3%.

Airgas, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the distribution of industrial, medical, and specialty gases in the United States. Airgas has a market cap of $6.35 billion and is part of the services sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 19.6, equal to the average wholesale industry P/E ratio and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 8.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 11 analysts that rate Airgas a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and two rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Airgas as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

On the negative front, China Metro-Rural Holdings ( CNR), down 7.4%, Aegean Marine Petroleum Network ( ANW), down 2.5%, Cardinal Health ( CAH), down 2.3%, and Longwei Petroleum Investment Holding Limite ( LPH), down 2.1%, were all laggards within the wholesale industry with AmerisourceBergen ( ABC) being today's wholesale industry laggard.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the wholesale industry could consider iShares Dow Jones US Cons Goods ( IYK) while those bearish on the wholesale industry could consider ProShares Ultra Sht Consumer Goods ( SZK).

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