Airgas Inc (ARG): Today's Featured Wholesale 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

Airgas ( ARG) pushed the Wholesale industry lower today making it today's featured Wholesale laggard. The industry as a whole closed the day down 0.1%. By the end of trading, Airgas fell $1.06 (-1.1%) to $96.72 on average volume. Throughout the day, 682,170 shares of Airgas exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 521,400 shares. The stock ranged in price between $95.60-$97.76 after having opened the day at $97.56 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $97.78. Other companies within the Wholesale industry that declined today were: Edgen Group Inc Class A ( EDG), down 7.3%, Addvantage Technologies Group ( AEY), down 3.4%, Hudson Technology ( HDSN), down 3.2% and Bluelinx Holdings ( BXC), down 3.2%.
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Airgas, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the distribution of industrial, medical, and specialty gases in the United States. Airgas has a market cap of $7.5 billion and is part of the basic materials sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 22.7, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 8.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 7 analysts that rate Airgas a buy, 1 analyst rates it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

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

On the positive front, Rada Electronics Industries ( RADA), down 9.1%, Crystal Rock Holdings ( CRVP), down 5.4%, Shengkai Innovations ( VALV), down 4.4% and Coast Distribution System ( CRV), down 4.4%.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the wholesale industry could consider iShares Dow Jones US Cons Goods ( IYK) while those bearish on the wholesale industry could consider ProShares Ultra Sht Consumer Goods ( SZK).

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