NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Ceres (CERE) were gaining 16.8% to $1.25 on heavy trading volume Thursday after the agricultural chemicals company announced it expanded commercial evaluations of its improved forage hybrids in Puerto Rico.

Ceres said that growers and dairies in Puerto Rico have planted multiple commercial-scale evaluations of its seed products to diversify their supply of feed and forage.

Growing conditions on the island can make it a useful proving ground for its products under subtropical conditions including high heat, humidity, and disease pressure, according to Ceres. Puerto Rico's subtropical geography is similar to India, Thailand, and Africa where sorghum is grown, the company said.

"When local growers and dairies saw our research results, they expressed interest in evaluating our products for their own commercial use," Ceres VP of Product Development Walter Nelson said in a statement. "We are optimistic that mainland dairies will follow suit once they become more familiar with our products."

About 1.8 million shares of Ceres were traded by 10:35 a.m. Thursday, above the company's average trading volume of about 597,000 shares a day.

TheStreet Ratings team rates CERES INC as a Sell with a ratings score of D-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate CERES INC (CERE) a SELL. This is driven by a number of negative factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any strengths, and could make it more difficult for investors to achieve positive results compared to most of the stocks we cover. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its disappointing return on equity and generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • 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 Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, CERES INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • CERE's stock share price has done very poorly compared to where it was a year ago: Despite any rallies, the net result is that it is down by 73.05%, which is also worse that the performance of the S&P 500 Index. Investors have so far failed to pay much attention to the earnings improvements the company has managed to achieve over the last 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.
  • CERES INC has improved earnings per share by 27.9% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. During the past fiscal year, CERES INC continued to lose money by earning -$7.36 versus -$10.48 in the prior year.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry. The net income increased by 23.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from -$7.73 million to -$5.90 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to -$5.80 million or 10.62% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -20.29%.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: CERE Ratings Report