Agrium Inc (AGU): Today's Featured Basic Materials Laggard

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

Agrium ( AGU) pushed the Basic Materials sector lower today making it today's featured Basic Materials laggard. The sector as a whole closed the day up 0.4%. By the end of trading, Agrium fell $1.18 (-1.3%) to $86.86 on light volume. Throughout the day, 529,501 shares of Agrium exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 980,300 shares. The stock ranged in price between $86.61-$88.00 after having opened the day at $88.00 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $88.04. Other companies within the Basic Materials sector that declined today were: China Gerui Advanced Materials Group ( CHOP), down 15.1%, Minco Gold Corporation ( MGH), down 10.3%, Ivanhoe Energy ( IVAN), down 9.6% and Cardero Resources Corporation ( CDY), down 8.5%.

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 $13.2 billion and is part of the chemicals industry. Shares are down 11.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are 12 analysts that rate Agrium a buy, 2 analysts rate it a sell, and 7 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Agrium as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, 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 has had sub par growth in net income.

On the positive front, Quaterra Resources ( QMM), up 20.7%, BioFuel Energy Corporation ( BIOF), up 17.3%, Ceres ( CERE), up 11.1% and Synthesis Energy Sys ( SYMX), up 10.7% , were all gainers within the basic materials sector with Chevron ( CVX) being today's featured basic materials sector leader.

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).

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12-months. Learn more.
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