Agrium Inc (AGU): Today's Featured Chemicals Laggard

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.

Agrium ( AGU) pushed the Chemicals industry lower today making it today's featured Chemicals laggard. The industry as a whole closed the day up 0.2%. By the end of trading, Agrium fell $1.13 (-1.1%) to $102.74 on light volume. Throughout the day, 428,859 shares of Agrium exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 843,300 shares. The stock ranged in price between $102.11-$103.49 after having opened the day at $103.48 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $103.87. Other companies within the Chemicals industry that declined today were: Ferro ( FOE), down 15.3%, BioFuel Energy Corporation ( BIOF), down 8.4%, Green Plains Renewable Energy ( GPRE), down 3%, and Flexible Solutions International ( FSI), down 2.7%.
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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 $15.27 billion and is part of the basic materials sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 11.1, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 2.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 14 analysts that rate Agrium a buy, one analyst rates it a sell, and five 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.

On the positive front, Pure Bioscience ( PURE), up 13.8%, Synthesis Energy Sys ( SYMX), up 9.4%, Lightbridge ( LTBR), up 8%, and American Pacific Corporation ( APFC), up 7.3%, were all gainers within the chemicals industry with LyondellBasell Industries ( LYB) 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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