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

All three major indices are trading up today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading up 83 points (0.6%) at 13,218 as of Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, 11:50 AM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,927 issues advancing vs. 999 declining with 148 unchanged.

The Basic Materials sector currently sits up 0.1% versus the S&P 500, which is up 0.8%. Top gainers within the sector include YPF Sociedad Anonima ( YPF), up 5.1%, National Oilwell Varco ( NOV), up 1.4%, Total ( TOT), up 1.2%, Monsanto Company ( MON), up 1.1% and Dow Chemical ( DOW), up 1.0%.

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

5. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company ( DD) is one of the companies pushing the Basic Materials sector higher today. As of noon trading, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company is up $0.44 (1.0%) to $44.53 on light volume Thus far, 2.0 million shares of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 6.2 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $44.22-$44.75 after having opened the day at $44.23 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $44.09.

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company operates as a science and technology based company worldwide. Its Agriculture segment provides hybrid corn and soybean seeds, and grains under the Pioneer brand name; and herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company has a market cap of $41.0 billion and is part of the chemicals industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 13.4, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 3.9% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 7 analysts that rate E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 8 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company as a buy. Among the primary strengths of the company is its respectable return on equity which we feel is likely to continue. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income. Get the full E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company Ratings Report now.

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4. As of noon trading, Valero Energy Corporation ( VLO) is up $0.52 (1.6%) to $33.89 on light volume Thus far, 2.8 million shares of Valero Energy Corporation exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 8.2 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $33.35-$34.00 after having opened the day at $33.42 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $33.37.

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 $18.0 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 16.1, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 58.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. 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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3. As of noon trading, ConocoPhillips ( COP) is up $0.82 (1.4%) to $58.51 on light volume Thus far, 2.0 million shares of ConocoPhillips exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 6.1 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $57.67-$58.52 after having opened the day at $57.98 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $57.69.

ConocoPhillips explores for, produces, transports, and markets crude oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids, liquefied natural gas and bitumen on a worldwide basis. ConocoPhillips has a market cap of $70.3 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.3, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 2.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 6 analysts that rate ConocoPhillips a buy, 4 analysts rate it a sell, and 5 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates ConocoPhillips as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its attractive valuation levels, expanding profit margins, growth in earnings per share, notable return on equity 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 ConocoPhillips Ratings Report now.

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2. As of noon trading, Vale ( VALE) is up $0.29 (1.5%) to $19.99 on average volume Thus far, 10.6 million shares of Vale exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 17.9 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $19.75-$20.01 after having opened the day at $19.76 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $19.70.

Vale S.A. engages in the exploration, production, and sale of basic metals in Brazil and internationally. The company is also involved in energy, logistics, and steel businesses. Vale has a market cap of $135.7 billion and is part of the metals & mining industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 4.4, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 11.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 2 analysts that rate Vale a buy, 2 analysts rate it a sell, and 8 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Vale as a hold. 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 and attractive valuation levels. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share. Get the full Vale Ratings Report now.

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1. As of noon trading, Chevron ( CVX) is up $0.81 (0.8%) to $108.63 on light volume Thus far, 2.1 million shares of Chevron exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 6.2 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $107.94-$108.70 after having opened the day at $107.97 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $107.82.

Chevron Corporation, through its subsidiaries, engages in petroleum, chemicals, mining, power generation, and energy operations worldwide. It operates in two segments, Upstream and Downstream. Chevron has a market cap of $211.2 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 8.8, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 1.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 13 analysts that rate Chevron a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 1 rates it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Chevron 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, attractive valuation levels 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 Chevron 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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