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Helmerich & Payne ( HP) pushed the Basic Materials sector lower today making it today's featured Basic Materials laggard. The sector as a whole closed the day down 0.6%. By the end of trading, Helmerich & Payne fell $3.12 (-2.9%) to $105.53 on average volume. Throughout the day, 1,503,166 shares of Helmerich & Payne exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1,283,700 shares. The stock ranged in price between $105.23-$108.25 after having opened the day at $107.51 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $108.65. Other companies within the Basic Materials sector that declined today were: Pacific Ethanol ( PEIX), down 12.3%, Sinocoking Coal and Coke Chemicals ( SCOK), down 12.1%, Swift Energy ( SFY), down 11.8% and North American Palladium ( PAL), down 11.4%.

Helmerich & Payne, Inc. primarily operates as a contract drilling company in North and South America. Helmerich & Payne has a market cap of $11.6 billion and is part of the energy industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 15.2, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 28.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 3 analysts that rate Helmerich & Payne a buy, 2 analysts rate it a sell, and 10 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Helmerich & Payne as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook.

On the positive front, KiOR ( KIOR), up 22.1%, BioAmber ( BIOA), up 15.3%, Marrone Bio Innovations ( MBII), up 10.4% and CVR Refining ( CVRR), up 8.5% , were all gainers within the basic materials sector with Phillips 66 ( PSX) 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).

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