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

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 higher today making it today's featured chemicals winner. The industry as a whole closed the day up 1.0%. By the end of trading, Agrium rose $1.61 (1.8%) to $90.42 on light volume. Throughout the day, 706,455 shares of Agrium exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1,172,600 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $89.01-$90.75 after having opened the day at $89.85 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $88.81. Other companies within the Chemicals industry that increased today were: REX American Resources ( REX), up 7.7%, PolyOne Corporation ( POL), up 5.8%, Taminco ( TAM), up 5.5% and Omnova Solutions ( OMN), up 5.5%.
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Agrium Inc. engages in the retail of agricultural products and services. The company operates through three segments: Retail, Wholesale, and Advanced Technologies. Agrium has a market cap of $13.3 billion and is part of the basic materials sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 9.3, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 11.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 12 analysts that rate Agrium a buy, 2 analysts rate it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Agrium as a buy. 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 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 negative front, Methes Energies International ( MEIL), down 11.9%, Ceres ( CERE), down 8.6%, Metabolix ( MBLX), down 4.0% and Synthesis Energy Sys ( SYMX), down 3.0% , were all laggards within the chemicals industry with Axiall ( AXLL) being today's chemicals industry laggard.

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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