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

Valero Energy Corporation ( VLO) pushed the Basic Materials sector higher today making it today's featured basic materials winner. The sector as a whole closed the day up 0.3%. By the end of trading, Valero Energy Corporation rose $0.57 (1.5%) to $38.80 on light volume. Throughout the day, 8,339,720 shares of Valero Energy Corporation exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 11,476,600 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $37.55-$38.84 after having opened the day at $38.01 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $38.23. Other companies within the Basic Materials sector that increased today were: Quest Rare Minerals ( QRM), up 38.0%, Houston American Energy Corporation ( HUSA), up 32.3%, Molycorp ( MCP), up 31.3% and Rare Element Resources ( REE), up 28.0%.
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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 $21.2 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.7, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 12.0% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 9 analysts that rate Valero Energy Corporation a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 6 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 solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and attractive valuation levels. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

On the negative front, BMB Munai ( BMBM), down 34.3%, Ceres ( CERE), down 9.8%, Cardero Resources Corporation ( CDY), down 9.6% and L & L Energy ( LLEN), down 9.1% , were all laggards within the basic materials sector with Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras ( PBR.A) being today's basic materials sector laggard.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, 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).

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