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 traded up today One out of the three major indices traded up today The three major indices are trading lower today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading down 22.09 points (-0.1%) at 17,091 as of Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 3:55 PM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,699 issues advancing vs. 1,279 declining with 158 unchanged.

The Basic Materials sector as a whole closed the day up 0.1% versus the S&P 500, which was up 0.2%. Top gainers within the Basic Materials sector included PostRock Energy ( PSTR), up 6.5%, Metabolix ( MBLX), up 2.3%, Lucas Energy ( LEI), up 2.5%, Solitario Exploration & Royalty ( XPL), up 2.8% and Quest Rare Minerals ( QRM), up 4.3%.

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

Lucas Energy ( LEI) is one of the companies that pushed the Basic Materials sector higher today. Lucas Energy was up $0.01 (2.5%) to $0.59 on light volume. Throughout the day, 38,449 shares of Lucas Energy exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 99,300 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $0.57-$0.59 after having opened the day at $0.58 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $0.57.

Lucas Energy, Inc. operates as an independent oil and gas company in Texas. Lucas Energy has a market cap of $19.0 million and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 40.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are no analysts who rate Lucas Energy a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and none rate it a hold.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Lucas Energy as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its unimpressive growth in net income, weak operating cash flow and generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from TheStreet Ratings analysis on LEI go as follows:

  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 70.3% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from -$0.62 million to -$1.05 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to -$0.36 million or 28.67% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing the cash generation rate to the industry average, the firm's growth is significantly lower.
  • Despite any intermediate fluctuations, we have only bad news to report on this stock's performance over the last year: it has tumbled by 57.07%, worse than the S&P 500's performance. Consistent with the plunge in the stock price, the company's earnings per share are down 100.00% compared to the year-earlier quarter. Naturally, the overall market trend is bound to be a significant factor. However, in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.
  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. Compared to other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, LUCAS ENERGY INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • 43.57% is the gross profit margin for LUCAS ENERGY INC which we consider to be strong. Despite the high profit margin, it has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, LEI's net profit margin of -91.65% significantly underperformed when compared to the industry average.

You can view the full analysis from the report here: Lucas Energy Ratings Report

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

At the close, Metabolix ( MBLX) was up $0.02 (2.3%) to $0.72 on average volume. Throughout the day, 56,398 shares of Metabolix exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 66,400 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $0.66-$0.76 after having opened the day at $0.70 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $0.70.

Metabolix, Inc., a bioscience company, focuses on delivering sustainable solutions to the plastics and chemicals industries. It produces a family of biopolymers found in nature called polyhydroxyalkanoates, which occur naturally in living organisms and are chemically similar to polyesters. Metabolix has a market cap of $23.5 million and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 44.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are no analysts who rate Metabolix a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 2 rate it a hold.

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

TheStreet Ratings rates Metabolix as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its unimpressive growth in net income, disappointing return on equity, weak operating cash flow, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in its earnings per share.

Highlights from TheStreet Ratings analysis on MBLX go as follows:

  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed against the S&P 500 and did not exceed that of the Chemicals industry. The net income has decreased by 20.6% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from -$6.76 million to -$8.15 million.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Chemicals industry and the overall market, METABOLIX INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has declined marginally to -$8.97 million or 5.49% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite a decrease in cash flow of 5.49%, METABOLIX INC is still significantly exceeding the industry average of -4128.45%.
  • Looking at the price performance of MBLX's shares over the past 12 months, there is not much good news to report: the stock is down 56.50%, and it has underformed the S&P 500 Index. In addition, the company's earnings per share are lower today than the year-earlier quarter. Naturally, the overall market trend is bound to be a significant factor. However, in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.
  • METABOLIX INC's earnings per share declined by 15.0% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has reported a trend of declining earnings per share over the past year. However, the consensus estimate suggests that this trend should reverse in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, METABOLIX INC swung to a loss, reporting -$0.88 versus $0.10 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings (-$0.84 versus -$0.88).

You can view the full analysis from the report here: Metabolix Ratings Report

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

PostRock Energy ( PSTR) was another company that pushed the Basic Materials sector higher today. PostRock Energy was up $0.09 (6.5%) to $1.47 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 104,490 shares of PostRock Energy exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 23,500 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $1.38-$1.48 after having opened the day at $1.38 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $1.38.

PostRock Energy Corporation, an independent oil and gas company, is engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development, production, and gathering of crude oil and natural gas. PostRock Energy has a market cap of $44.2 million and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 19.0% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are no analysts who rate PostRock Energy a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and none rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates PostRock Energy as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its generally high debt management risk and generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from TheStreet Ratings analysis on PSTR go as follows:

  • Currently the debt-to-equity ratio of 1.69 is quite high overall and when compared to the industry average, suggesting that the current management of debt levels should be re-evaluated. Along with the unfavorable debt-to-equity ratio, PSTR maintains a poor quick ratio of 0.85, which illustrates the inability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • PSTR has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 9.75% from its price level of one year ago. The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time.
  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, POSTROCK ENERGY CORP's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for POSTROCK ENERGY CORP is rather high; currently it is at 52.89%. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of -29.00% is in-line with the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 153.69% to $1.52 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, POSTROCK ENERGY CORP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 17.02%.

You can view the full analysis from the report here: PostRock Energy Ratings Report

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

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.