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Tickers in this Article: SHPGY, GEVA, QSFT, FOSL, BIDU, MSTR, PCLN
Currently, the Nasdaq has remained steady, the S&P 500 has declined 0.1% and the Dow has fallen 0.3%. The Nasdaq Composite Index represents all the stocks that trade on the Nasdaq stock market.

The biggest movers traded on the NASDAQ so far are:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq:ALNY)$650.4 million+35.3%
J2 Global Inc (Nasdaq:JCOM)$1.21 billion+10.1%
First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR)$1.23 billion+7.8%
Stratasys, Inc. (Nasdaq:SSYS)$1.01 billion+6.3%
Tudou Hldg Ltd (ADR) (Nasdaq:TUDO)$822.9 million-6%
Woodward Inc (Nasdaq:WWD)$2.49 billion-5.6%
MWI Veterinary Supply, Inc. (Nasdaq:MWIV)$1.35 billion-4.8%
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Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:ALNY) is currently at $16.94 per share after a dramatic increase of 35.3%. The company's volume for the day so far is 2.9 million shares. In technical analysis, trading volume is used to determine the strength of a market indicator. Margin analysis tells us how effectively management can wring profits from sales and how much room a company has to withstand a downturn, fend off competition and make mistakes. ALNY's operating and net profit margins are both negative. This is because the company reported net and operating losses in the most recent quarter.

Investment valuation ratios can be very useful in determining the value of a stock, but it is very important to keep in mind that while some financial ratios have general rules (or a broad application), in most instances it is a prudent practice to look at a company's historical performance and use peer company/industry comparisons to put any given company's ratio in perspective. The price/book value ratio provides a way of evaluating whether a stock is relatively cheap or expensive. ALNY has a P/B ratio of 4.46 which shows that its share price is higher than its book value. This may be a sign that the company is overvalued. P/B value comparisons should be made among companies in the same industry rather than across industries. SEE: Investment Valuation Ratios: Price/Book Value Ratio

J2 Global (Nasdaq:JCOM) is trading at $28.89 per share, a significant rise of 10.1%. So far today, 1.1 million shares have changed hands, whereas yesterday, volume was only 135,998 shares. Price change alone is not enough to know how a stock is doing. Volume is an important secondary indicator used to confirm trends suggested by price movement. Profit-margin ratios measure how much money a company squeezes from its total revenue or total sales. Investors can look at a company's gross profit margin, operating profit margin and net margin to understand a company's profitability. JCOM's gross profit margin of 88.4% is on the high side. A high gross profit margin generally means that the company can make a reasonable profit on sales, provided that overhead costs do not increase. Comparing net profit margins for companies with similar business models or in similar industries can yield valuable information as to which business is actually performing better. With a net profit margin of 32.7%, the company has a high one compared to its gross profit margin. Companies with profit margins reflecting a competitive advantage are able to improve their market share during the hard times - leaving them even better positioned when things improve again. Investors trying to assess a company's ability to continue to pay its fixed expenses even if its business declines may want to evaluate the operating margin ratio. JCOM's operating profit margin is 43.4%.

Valuation ratios like the price to earnings (P/E) ratio, the price to earnings growth (PEG) ratio, the price to sales (P/S) ratio, the price to book (P/B) ratio, and the dividend yield are useful in determining how attractive a potential or existing investment is. Dividend yield measures the income that a stock will generate for an investor. JCOM has a dividend yield of 3.3%. A stock's dividend yield depends on the nature of a company's business, its posture in the marketplace (value or growth oriented), its earnings and cash flow, and its dividend policy. SEE: Due Diligence On Dividends

First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR) is up 7.8% to reach a current price of $15.27 per share. This morning, the company's volume is three million shares. This is in keeping with its current daily average. High volume indicates a lot of investor interest while low volume indicates the opposite. Profit-margin ratios can give investors deeper insight into management efficiency than earnings alone can provide. Gross profit margin, operating profit margin and net margin are commonly used margins. FSLR has a gross profit margin of 38.9%. The operating and net profit margins for FSLR are both negative. This is because the company reported a net loss and net operating loss in the most recent quarter.

Investors can make use of valuation ratios to estimate whether a stock is fairly valued. While measuring a price/earnings ratio (P/E ratio) is a popular valuation technique, the measure cannot be calculated for companies without earnings, so some investors analyze the price/sales ratio. The P/S ratio for FSLR is 0.81, which is relatively low. Low P/S ratios can indicate unrecognized value potential - so long as other criteria like high profit margins, low debt levels and growth prospects are in place. All things being equal, a low P/S ratio is good news for investors, while a very high one can be a warning sign.

Stratasys (Nasdaq:SSYS) has risen 6.3% and is currently trading at $50.54 per share. With 244,619 shares changing hands so far today, the company's volume is 0.7 times the average volume over the last three months. If a stock price makes a big move up or down, volume lets us know the significance of that move. Calculating the profit margin is a great way to gain insight into aspects of how well a company generates and retains money. Instead of measuring how much managers earn from assets, equity or invested capital, profit-margin ratios measure how far a company stretches its total revenue or total sales. SSYS' gross profit margin is 58.8%. Value investors, investors in distressed securities, and junk bond investors will probably pay more attention to the operating margin ratio. SSYS has an operating profit margin of 16.1%. Net profit margin examines how effectively a company is managed and how profitable it is by looking at how much of each dollar in revenues ultimately hits the company's bottom line. The company has a net profit margin of 12.1%.

When estimating the value of a particular investment, valuation ratios provide a good basis for assessing the value of an individual stock. The debt ratio measures the leverage of a company, and a company's leverage is a good way to assess risk. SSYS' debt ratio of 17.2% is on the low side. In other words, the company is less sensitive to changes in business or interest rates since less of its cash flow is dedicated to paying off loan expenses. However, one thing to note with this ratio: it isn't a pure measure of a company's debt (or indebtedness), as it also includes operational liabilities, such as accounts payable and taxes payable.

Tudou Hldg Ltd (Nasdaq:TUDO) is down 6% to reach $27.27 per share. This morning, the company is trading a volume of 21,589 shares. Volume is an important indicator in technical analysis as it is used to measure the worth of a market move. If the markets have made strong price move either up or down the perceived strength of that move depends on the volume for that period. The higher the volume during that price move the more significant the move. Margin ratios highlight companies that are worth further examination. TUDO's operating profit margin is -94.6%. This shows that the company reported a net operating loss in the most recent quarter.

In making a decision about a potential or existing investment, valuation ratios are useful as a basis for seeing whether the stock price is too high, reasonable, or a bargain. To a large degree, the debt-equity (D/E) ratio provides another vantage point on a company's leverage position, in this case, comparing total liabilities to shareholders' equity, as opposed to total assets in the debt ratio. TUDO has a low debt-equity ratio of 8%. A low D/E ratio may be a sign that the company is not taking advantage of leverage to increase its profits. The D/E ratio percentage provides a much more dramatic perspective on a company's leverage position than the debt ratio percentage.

Woodward (Nasdaq:WWD) has decreased to $34.03 per share, a 5.6% fall. So far today, the company's volume is 847,724 shares, more than yesterday's 332,181 shares. A stock's volume conveys how excited investors are about it. Profit-margin ratios help us to keep score, as measured over time, of management's ability to generate profits and manage costs and expenses. There are three key profit-margin ratios: gross profit margin, operating profit margin and net profit margin. The gross profit margin for WWD is 32.9%. WWD's operating margin of 11.5% and net margin of 8% are low relative to its gross margin.

It is important for an investor to estimate the value of any potential or existing investment; valuation ratios make this easier. Perhaps one of the most widely-used stock analysis tools is the price-to-earnings ratio, or P/E. WWD is in line with the industry average with a P/E ratio of 17.5. A high P/E ratio indicates a stock that is expensive, while a low P/E ratio indicates a stock that is cheap. SEE: How To Find P/E And PEG Ratios

MWI Veterinary Supply (Nasdaq:MWIV) is currently trading at a share price of $100.91, a 4.8% decline. The company's volume for the morning is 85,749 shares. This is 1.3 times its average daily volume. If a stock is trading on low volume, then there is not much interest in the stock. On the other hand, if a stock is trading on high volume, then there is a lot of interest in the stock. Margin analysis is a great way to understand the profitability of companies. MWIV has a low gross profit margin of 13%. Investors should track gross profit margin ratios over several years in order to see if earnings are consistent, growing or declining. MWIV has an operating profit margin of 4.2% and a net profit margin of 2.7%, both low compared to its gross profit margin.

A company's value as an investment is more easily estimated using valuation ratios such as the price to earnings (P/E) ratio, the price to earnings growth (PEG) ratio, the price to sales (P/S) ratio, the price to book (P/B) ratio, and the dividend yield. When used consistently and uniformly, the price/earnings to growth (PEG) ratio is an essential tool that adds dimension to the price/earnings ratio, allows comparisons across diverse industries and is always on the lookout for value. MWIV has a PEG ratio of 1.74. While P/E ratios are important indicators of market value, a high P/E in and of itself is not bad because it may indicate a company whose earnings are growing very rapidly, so many investors look at the PEG ratio in order to get an idea of whether or not a particular P/E ratio is justified by underlying earnings growth.

The Bottom Line The nature of the market is such that stocks will have good days and bad days. Paying close attention to the previous ratios will help you identify key times to adjust your strategy. However, these fundamental metrics must be analyzed with historic data, industry information in addition to firm specific financial statements.

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