4 Stocks Pushing The Basic Materials Sector Lower

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

Two out of the three major indices are trading lower today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading down 19 points (-0.1%) at 13,006 as of Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, 11:50 AM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,239 issues advancing vs. 1,655 declining with 129 unchanged.

The Basic Materials sector currently sits down 0.2% versus the S&P 500, which is down 0.1%. On the negative front, top decliners within the sector include Gold Fields ( GFI), down 3.8%, Anglogold Ashanti ( AU), down 2.2%, Newmont Mining Corporation ( NEM), down 2.1%, Goldcorp ( GG), down 1.5% and CF Industries Holdings ( CF), down 1.5%. Top gainers within the sector include Continental Resources ( CLR), up 5.8%, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation ( COG), up 2.6%, Cenovus Energy ( CVE), up 1.6%, Anadarko Petroleum ( APC), up 1.5% and Teck Resources ( TCK), up 1.3%.

TheStreet Ratings group would like to highlight 4 stocks pushing the sector lower today:

4. Air Products & Chemicals ( APD) is one of the companies pushing the Basic Materials sector lower today. As of noon trading, Air Products & Chemicals is down $0.73 (-0.9%) to $82.21 on light volume Thus far, 376,256 shares of Air Products & Chemicals exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.2 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $82.01-$83.39 after having opened the day at $83.12 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $82.94.

Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. provides atmospheric gases, process and specialty gases, performance materials, equipment, and services worldwide. Air Products & Chemicals has a market cap of $17.5 billion and is part of the chemicals industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 17.7, equal to the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 3.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 8 analysts that rate Air Products & Chemicals a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 7 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Air Products & Chemicals as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its reasonable valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself. Get the full Air Products & Chemicals Ratings Report now.

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3. As of noon trading, Agrium ( AGU) is down $1.42 (-1.4%) to $100.60 on light volume Thus far, 284,308 shares of Agrium exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 981,600 shares. The stock has ranged in price between $100.51-$102.96 after having opened the day at $102.96 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $102.02.

Agrium Inc. engages in the retail of agricultural products and services worldwide. The company operates in three segments: Retail, Wholesale, and Advanced Technologies. Agrium has a market cap of $15.2 billion and is part of the chemicals industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 11.0, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 51.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 14 analysts that rate Agrium a buy, 1 analyst rates it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Agrium as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and reasonable valuation levels. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income. Get the full Agrium Ratings Report now.

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2. As of noon trading, PPG Industries ( PPG) is down $1.38 (-1.1%) to $122.89 on average volume Thus far, 547,870 shares of PPG Industries exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 832,100 shares. The stock has ranged in price between $122.77-$125.00 after having opened the day at $124.68 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $124.27.

PPG Industries, Inc. manufactures and supplies protective and decorative coatings. PPG Industries has a market cap of $18.8 billion and is part of the chemicals industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 20.4, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 46.9% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 10 analysts that rate PPG Industries a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 5 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates PPG Industries as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated. Get the full PPG Industries Ratings Report now.

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1. As of noon trading, Praxair ( PX) is down $1.60 (-1.5%) to $105.61 on light volume Thus far, 303,465 shares of Praxair exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.1 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $105.50-$107.72 after having opened the day at $107.48 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $107.21.

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 $31.5 billion and is part of the chemicals industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 18.9, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 0.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 10 analysts that rate Praxair a buy, 1 analyst rates it a sell, and 4 rate it a hold.

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

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If you are interested in one of these 3 stocks, 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).

A reminder about TheStreet Ratings group: 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.

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