PKX, GRA And PX, 3 Basic Materials Stocks Pushing The Sector Lower

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 down today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading down 4 points (0.0%) at 16,511 as of Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 12:55 PM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,718 issues advancing vs. 1,280 declining with 133 unchanged.

The Basic Materials sector currently sits up 0.6% versus the S&P 500, which is down 0.1%. On the negative front, top decliners within the sector include Statoil ASA ( STO), down 1.4%, Total ( TOT), down 1.2%, LyondellBasell Industries ( LYB), down 1.1%, Ecopetrol ( EC), down 0.9% and Southern Copper ( SCCO), down 0.9%. Top gainers within the sector include FMC Technologies ( FTI), up 5.1%, Newmont Mining ( NEM), up 3.2%, Suncor Energy ( SU), up 2.9%, Chesapeake Energy ( CHK), up 2.5% and Halliburton ( HAL), up 2.4%.

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

3. POSCO ( PKX) is one of the companies pushing the Basic Materials sector lower today. As of noon trading, POSCO is down $0.79 (-1.1%) to $72.19 on average volume. Thus far, 192,575 shares of POSCO exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 296,300 shares. The stock has ranged in price between $71.66-$72.21 after having opened the day at $71.70 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $72.98.

POSCO, together with its subsidiaries, manufactures and sells steel rolled products and plates. It operates through four segments: Steel, Trading, Construction, and Others. POSCO has a market cap of $23.4 billion and is part of the metals & mining industry. Shares are down 6.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are no analysts that rate POSCO a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and none rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates POSCO as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, attractive valuation levels and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, poor profit margins and weak operating cash flow. Get the full POSCO Ratings Report now.

STOCKS TO BUY: 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, W R Grace ( GRA) is down $4.03 (-4.0%) to $97.44 on heavy volume. Thus far, 484,976 shares of W R Grace exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 640,100 shares. The stock has ranged in price between $97.14-$102.65 after having opened the day at $101.30 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $101.47.

W. R. Grace & Co. produces and sells specialty chemicals and materials worldwide. It operates in three segments: Grace Catalysts Technologies, Grace Materials Technologies, and Grace Construction Products. W R Grace has a market cap of $7.8 billion and is part of the chemicals industry. Shares are up 2.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are 3 analysts that rate W R Grace a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 2 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates W R Grace as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and expanding profit margins. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results. Get the full W R Grace Ratings Report now.

STOCKS TO BUY: 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, Praxair ( PX) is down $0.76 (-0.6%) to $131.21 on average volume. Thus far, 565,821 shares of Praxair exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.3 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $127.59-$131.83 after having opened the day at $127.59 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $131.97.

Praxair, Inc. produces, sells, and distributes atmospheric, process, and specialty gases, as well as surface coatings in North America, Europe, South America, and Asia. Praxair has a market cap of $39.0 billion and is part of the chemicals industry. Shares are up 1.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are 9 analysts that rate Praxair a buy, 1 analyst rates it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Praxair as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share, revenue growth, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated. Get the full Praxair Ratings Report now.

STOCKS TO BUY: 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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