Basic Materials Stocks On The Rise With Help From 3 Stocks

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.

All three major indices are trading up today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading up 115 points (0.7%) at 16,388 as of Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, 11:55 AM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,987 issues advancing vs. 938 declining with 158 unchanged.

The Basic Materials sector currently sits up 0.3% versus the S&P 500, which is up 0.6%. Top gainers within the sector include Dril-Quip ( DRQ), up 12.6%, Halliburton Company ( HAL), up 2.4%, Imperial Oil ( IMO), up 2.1%, Cenovus Energy ( CVE), up 2.0% and Total ( TOT), up 1.8%. On the negative front, top decliners within the sector include Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras ( PBR), down 2.4%, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold ( FCX), down 1.9%, China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation ( SNP), down 1.3% and Valero Energy Corporation ( VLO), down 1.1%.

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

3. Monsanto Company ( MON) is one of the companies pushing the Basic Materials sector higher today. As of noon trading, Monsanto Company is up $0.82 (0.8%) to $109.70 on average volume. Thus far, 1.3 million shares of Monsanto Company exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 2.6 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $108.57-$109.71 after having opened the day at $108.99 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $108.88.

Monsanto Company, together with its subsidiaries, provides agricultural products for farmers worldwide. It operates in two segments, Seeds and Genomics, and Agricultural Productivity. Monsanto Company has a market cap of $57.2 billion and is part of the chemicals industry. Shares are down 6.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 9 analysts who rate Monsanto Company a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 5 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Monsanto Company 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, notable return on equity, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company is trading at a premium valuation based on our review of its current price compared to such things as earnings and book value. Get the full Monsanto Company Ratings Report now.

3x UPSIDE POTENTIAL: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

2. As of noon trading, ConocoPhillips ( COP) is up $0.37 (0.6%) to $66.62 on average volume. Thus far, 2.0 million shares of ConocoPhillips exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 5.3 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $65.62-$66.88 after having opened the day at $66.29 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $66.25.

ConocoPhillips explores for, produces, transports, and markets crude oil, bitumen, natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and natural gas liquids on a worldwide basis. ConocoPhillips has a market cap of $81.1 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 6.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 4 analysts who rate ConocoPhillips a buy, 3 analysts rate it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates ConocoPhillips as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations and increase in stock price during the past year. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results. Get the full ConocoPhillips Ratings Report now.

3x UPSIDE POTENTIAL: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

1. As of noon trading, Occidental Petroleum Corporation ( OXY) is up $0.98 (1.0%) to $96.51 on light volume. Thus far, 1.0 million shares of Occidental Petroleum Corporation exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 4.1 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $95.75-$96.76 after having opened the day at $95.75 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $95.53.

Occidental Petroleum Corporation engages in the exploration and production of oil and gas properties in the United States and internationally. The company operates in three segments: Oil and Gas; Chemical; and Midstream, Marketing and Other. Occidental Petroleum Corporation has a market cap of $76.7 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 0.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 12 analysts who rate Occidental Petroleum Corporation a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 7 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Occidental Petroleum Corporation as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, compelling growth in net income, increase in stock price during the past year and impressive record of earnings per share growth. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results. Get the full Occidental Petroleum Corporation Ratings Report now.

3x UPSIDE POTENTIAL: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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).

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