3 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 down today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading down 25 points (-0.2%) at 14,513 as of Friday, March 15, 2013, 12:49 PM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,309 issues advancing vs. 1,578 declining with 140 unchanged.

The Basic Materials sector currently sits up 0.5% versus the S&P 500, which is down 0.1%. Top gainers within the sector include National Oilwell Varco ( NOV), up 3.3%, Imperial Oil ( IMO), up 1.9%, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold ( FCX), up 1.8%, Valero Energy Corporation ( VLO), up 1.7% and Suncor Energy ( SU), up 1.5%. On the negative front, top decliners within the sector include POSCO ( PKX), down 2.2%, Ecopetrol S.A ( EC), down 1.1%, Kinder Morgan ( KMI), down 0.7%, ConocoPhillips ( COP), down 0.7% and Total ( TOT), down 0.5%.

TheStreet Ratings group would like to highlight 3 stocks pushing the sector higher today:

3. Cenovus Energy ( CVE) is one of the companies pushing the Basic Materials sector higher today. As of noon trading, Cenovus Energy is up $0.50 (1.6%) to $32.44 on average volume Thus far, 384,281 shares of Cenovus Energy exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 920,400 shares. The stock has ranged in price between $31.94-$32.45 after having opened the day at $31.97 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $31.95.

Cenovus Energy Inc., an integrated oil company, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the development, production, and marketing of bitumen, crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids (NGLs) in Canada with refining operations in the United States. Cenovus Energy has a market cap of $23.9 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 24.0, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 4.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 10 analysts that rate Cenovus Energy a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 3 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Cenovus Energy as a buy. Among the primary strengths of the company is its solid financial position based on a variety of debt and liquidity measures that we have evaluated. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself. Get the full Cenovus Energy Ratings Report now.

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2. As of noon trading, Vale ( VALE) is up $0.28 (1.6%) to $17.88 on heavy volume Thus far, 12.9 million shares of Vale exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 16.1 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $17.68-$17.98 after having opened the day at $17.88 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $17.60.

Vale S.A. engages in the research, production, and marketing of iron ore and pellets, nickel, fertilizers, copper, coal, manganese, ferroalloys, cobalt, platinum group metals, and precious metals in Brazil and internationally. Vale has a market cap of $91.7 billion and is part of the metals & mining industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 4.1, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 16.0% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 4 analysts that rate Vale a buy, 2 analysts rate it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Vale as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its reasonable valuation levels, 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, weak operating cash flow and disappointing return on equity. Get the full Vale Ratings Report now.

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1. As of noon trading, Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras ( PBR) is up $0.29 (1.7%) to $17.69 on average volume Thus far, 11.1 million shares of Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 17.6 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $17.36-$17.82 after having opened the day at $17.53 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $17.40.

Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. operates as an integrated oil and gas company in Brazil and internationally. Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras has a market cap of $112.2 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 5.6, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 10.6% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 2 analysts that rate Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 9 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, attractive valuation levels and growth in earnings per share. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including disappointing return on equity, weak operating cash flow and poor profit margins. Get the full Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras 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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