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.

Applied Materials ( AMAT) pushed the Technology sector higher today making it today's featured technology winner. The sector as a whole closed the day up 0.5%. By the end of trading, Applied Materials rose 31 cents (2.3%) to $13.61 on average volume. Throughout the day, 16.8 million shares of Applied Materials exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 12.6 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $13.36-$13.68 after having opened the day at $13.41 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $13.30. Other companies within the Technology sector that increased today were: LinkedIn ( LNKD), up 21.3%, Synchronoss Technologies ( SNCR), up 19.6%, Net Element International ( NETE), up 19.5%, and Ruckus Wireless ( RKUS), up 16.5%.
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Applied Materials, Inc. provides manufacturing equipment, services, and software to the semiconductor, flat panel display, solar photovoltaic (PV), and related industries worldwide. Applied Materials has a market cap of $16.07 billion and is part of the electronics industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 148.9, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 17.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are six analysts that rate Applied Materials a buy, three analysts rate it a sell, and seven rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Applied Materials as a hold. 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. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and weak operating cash flow.

On the negative front, Guidance Software ( GUID), down 19.5%, Nuance Communications ( NUAN), down 18.5%, Renewable Energy Trade Board ( EBOD), down 18.4%, and Warwick Valley Telephone Company ( WVT), down 11%, were all laggards within the technology sector with Riverbed Technology Incorporated ( RVBD) being today's technology sector laggard.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the technology sector could consider Technology Select Sector SPDR ( XLK) while those bearish on the technology sector could consider ProShares Ultra Short Technology ( REW).

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