5 Stocks Pushing The Basic Materials Sector Higher

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 up 15 points (0.1%) at 12,980 as of Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 11:49 AM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,319 issues advancing vs. 1,553 declining with 162 unchanged.

The Basic Materials sector currently sits down 0.3% versus the S&P 500, which is down 0.1%. Top gainers within the sector include Noble Corporation ( NE), up 3.9%, ArcelorMittal ( MT), up 2.4%, Gerdau ( GGB), up 1.7%, PetroChina ( PTR), up 1.0% and Eni SpA ( E), up 0.9%. On the negative front, top decliners within the sector include Seadrill ( SDRL), down 4.3%, Southwestern Energy Company ( SWN), down 2.2%, Pioneer Natural Resources Company ( PXD), down 1.9%, Marathon Oil ( MRO), down 1.5% and Hess ( HES), down 1.5%.

TheStreet Ratings group would like to highlight 5 stocks pushing the sector higher today:

5. Transocean ( RIG) is one of the companies pushing the Basic Materials sector higher today. As of noon trading, Transocean is up $0.62 (1.4%) to $46.70 on light volume Thus far, 890,056 shares of Transocean exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 3.7 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $46.12-$46.84 after having opened the day at $46.30 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $46.08.

Transocean Ltd. provides offshore contract drilling services for oil and gas wells worldwide. It offers deepwater and harsh environment drilling, oil and gas drilling management, and drilling engineering and drilling project management services. Transocean has a market cap of $16.6 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 20.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are 18 analysts that rate Transocean a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 5 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Transocean as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income and disappointing return on equity. Get the full Transocean Ratings Report now.

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4. As of noon trading, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan ( POT) is up $0.32 (0.8%) to $38.92 on light volume Thus far, 1.7 million shares of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 4.7 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $38.37-$39.00 after having opened the day at $38.46 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $38.60.

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc., together with its subsidiaries, produces and sells fertilizers and related industrial and feed products primarily in the United States and Canada. The company mines and produces potash, which is used as fertilizer. Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan has a market cap of $33.2 billion and is part of the chemicals industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 14.4, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 6.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are 12 analysts that rate Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan a buy, 1 analyst rates it a sell, and 10 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow. Get the full Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Ratings Report now.

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3. As of noon trading, Valero Energy Corporation ( VLO) is up $0.39 (1.2%) to $32.28 on light volume Thus far, 2.1 million shares of Valero Energy Corporation exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 8.5 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $31.92-$32.44 after having opened the day at $31.92 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $31.89.

Valero Energy Corporation operates as an independent petroleum refining and marketing company. The company operates through three segments: Refining, Ethanol, and Retail. Valero Energy Corporation has a market cap of $17.9 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 15.9, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 51.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are 10 analysts that rate Valero Energy Corporation a buy, 1 analyst rates it a sell, and 3 rate it a hold.

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

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2. As of noon trading, Dow Chemical ( DOW) is up $0.21 (0.7%) to $29.51 on light volume Thus far, 2.2 million shares of Dow Chemical exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 9.9 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $29.22-$29.85 after having opened the day at $29.27 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $29.30.

The Dow Chemical Company manufactures and supplies chemical products used as raw materials in the manufacture of customer products and services worldwide. Dow Chemical has a market cap of $36.2 billion and is part of the chemicals industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 23.4, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 1.9% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are 2 analysts that rate Dow Chemical a buy, 3 analysts rate it a sell, and 12 rate it a hold.

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

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1. As of noon trading, Halliburton Company ( HAL) is up $0.26 (0.8%) to $33.26 on light volume Thus far, 3.3 million shares of Halliburton Company exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 12.9 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $32.88-$33.45 after having opened the day at $32.90 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $32.99.

Halliburton Company provides various products and services to the energy industry for exploring, developing, and producing oil and natural gas worldwide. It operates in two segments, Completion and Production, and Drilling and Evaluation. Halliburton Company has a market cap of $30.9 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 10.7, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 3.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are 19 analysts that rate Halliburton Company a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

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

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If you are interested in one of these 5 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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