3 Basic Materials Stocks Dragging The Sector Down

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.

Two out of the three major indices are trading up today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading down 3 points (0.0%) at 16,578 as of Thursday, May 1, 2014, 12:55 PM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,778 issues advancing vs. 1,187 declining with 180 unchanged.

The Basic Materials sector currently sits down 0.3% versus the S&P 500, which is up 0.1%. On the negative front, top decliners within the sector include Ecopetrol ( EC), down 3.1%, Continental Resources ( CLR), down 2.4%, Range Resources ( RRC), down 2.3%, Dow Chemical ( DOW), down 1.3% and Vale ( VALE), down 1.0%. Top gainers within the sector include Energen ( EGN), up 7.3%, Marathon Petroleum ( MPC), up 3.1%, Williams Companies ( WMB), up 2.0%, Valero Energy ( VLO), up 1.9% and Phillips 66 ( PSX), up 1.6%.

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

3. Southern Copper ( SCCO) is one of the companies pushing the Basic Materials sector lower today. As of noon trading, Southern Copper is down $0.76 (-2.5%) to $29.38 on light volume. Thus far, 405,659 shares of Southern Copper exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 2.0 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $29.36-$30.03 after having opened the day at $29.93 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $30.14.

Southern Copper Corporation is engaged in the mining, exploring, smelting, and refining copper and other minerals in Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador. Southern Copper has a market cap of $25.2 billion and is part of the metals & mining industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 14.5, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 5.0% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 4 analysts that rate Southern Copper a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 4 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Southern Copper as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat weak growth in earnings per share. Get the full Southern Copper 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, Total ( TOT) is down $0.64 (-0.9%) to $70.60 on average volume. Thus far, 521,696 shares of Total exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.1 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $70.50-$70.97 after having opened the day at $70.81 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $71.24.

TOTAL S.A., together with its subsidiaries, operates as an oil and gas company worldwide. The company operates in three segments: Upstream, Refining & Chemicals, and Marketing & Services. Total has a market cap of $167.2 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 7.2, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 14.8% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 6 analysts that rate Total a buy, 2 analysts rate it a sell, and 1 rates it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Total as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, attractive valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity. Get the full Total 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, Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras ( PBR) is down $0.14 (-1.0%) to $13.74 on light volume. Thus far, 5.9 million shares of Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 24.7 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $13.64-$13.93 after having opened the day at $13.84 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $13.88.

Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. - Petrobras operates as an integrated oil and gas company in Brazil and internationally. Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras has a market cap of $92.2 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.2, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 0.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 3 analysts that rate Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its attractive valuation levels, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including poor profit margins, weak operating cash flow and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself. Get the full Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras 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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