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Tickers in this Article: ARNA, PEET, MSTR, CPNO, VRTX, OYOG, ONXX
This morning has been good for the market, with the Nasdaq increasing 1.2%, the S&P 500 moving up 0.6% and the Dow rising 0.7%. 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
VIVUS, Inc. (Nasdaq:VVUS)$2.64 billion+16.4%
Stratasys, Inc. (Nasdaq:SSYS)$1.11 billion+9.6%
Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq:CHKP)$9.46 billion+8.8%
Quality Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq:QSII)$1.54 billion-8.3%
Air Methods Corporation (Nasdaq:AIRM)$1.27 billion+7.9%
51job, Inc. (ADR) (Nasdaq:JOBS)$1.15 billion-7.4%
F5 Networks, Inc. (Nasdaq:FFIV)$7.29 billion+6.4%
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VIVUS (Nasdaq:VVUS) rose a significant 16.4% to reach $30.79 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 24.2 million shares. When a stock price moves up or down, watching the volume is a good way of identifying how significant that shift is. 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. If the price/book value ratio of a stock is high, it may indicate that the stock is expensive, while a lower ratio may indicate that the stock is a bargain. VVUS' stock is trading for more than its book value with a P/B ratio of 9.42. This high share price relative to asset value is likely to indicate that the company has been earning a very high return on its assets. P/B value ratios are particularly useful to value investors, distressed or "vulture" investors, or any other investors purchasing beaten-down securities but are less useful to investors focused on growth stocks, purchasing IPOs, or investing in technology or other "asset-lite" companies. SEE: Using The Price-To-Book Ratio To Evaluate Companies

Stratasys (Nasdaq:SSYS) is at $56.95 per share after an increase of 9.6%. With 374,101 shares changing hands so far today, the company's volume is consistent with its current three-month average. When a stock price moves up or down, watching the volume is a good way of identifying how significant that shift is. 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. SSYS has a gross profit margin of 58.8%. The operating margin ratio is calculated by dividing operating income by sales and provides a measure of what percentage of a company's revenues is available to pay its fixed costs. Operating profit margin for SSYS is 16.1%. A high net profit margin indicates a highly profitable company, and a low profit margin indicates the opposite. The company has a net profit margin of 12.1%.

It is important for an investor to estimate the value of any potential or existing investment; valuation ratios make this easier. The price/sales ratio measures a company's stock market price by its revenues. The P/S ratio for SSYS is 4.67, which is relatively high. In young companies, a high P/S ratio is a sign of sales growth that is expected to turn into earnings and cash flow. All things being equal, a low P/S ratio is good news for investors, while a very high one can be a warning sign.

Check Point Software (Nasdaq:CHKP) is up 8.8% to reach a current price of $49.63 per share. The company's volume is currently 4.5 million shares. This is greater than yesterday's volume of 3.3 million shares. Volume indicates the level of interest that investors have in a company at its current price. Margin analysis is a great way to understand the profitability of companies. CHKP has a gross profit margin of 92.1%, which is on the high end. A high gross profit margin generally means that the company can make a reasonable profit on sales, provided that overhead costs do not increase. The operating margin ratio can vary widely across industries, so investors should focus on comparing companies from similar industries or with similar business models. CHKP's operating profit margin is 55.2%. Ideally, a company's profit margin should be stable or rising; declining profit margin should be cause for concern or further investigation. Net margin is 44.2%.

When estimating the value of a particular investment, valuation ratios provide a good basis for assessing the value of an individual stock. The easy-to-calculate debt ratio is helpful to investors looking for a quick take on the leverage for a company. CHKP has a low debt ratio of 24.8%. A low debt ratio means the company has more available cash flow. 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.

Quality Systems (Nasdaq:QSII) has fallen 8.3% and is currently trading at $23.85 per share. At 1.1 million shares, the company's volume so far today is 2.4 times the current daily average. 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 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. QSII has a gross profit margin of 68.5%. Net profit margin compares net income with sales. The company's net margin of 17.6% is high relative to its gross profit margin. Investors in companies with high profit margins can be confident that even if sales dip slightly, profits will remain strong. Operating margin can be an important ratio for some investors, particularly those investing in weaker companies or companies in cyclical industries. QSII has an operating profit margin of 21.4%.

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. Dividend yield is a way to measure how much cash flow you are getting for each dollar invested in an equity position - in other words, how much "bang for your buck" you are getting from dividends. Dividend yield for QSII is 2.7%. A higher dividend yield may indicate a risk of a fall in the price of the security, or a cut in the level of dividend payments, either of which would have the effect of dropping future returns. SEE: Dividend Yield For The Downturn

Air (Nasdaq:AIRM) is currently trading at $106.78 per share, a 7.9% increase. The company's volume for the day so far is 496,657 shares. High volume indicates a lot of investor interest while low volume indicates the opposite. 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. AIRM's gross profit margin is 40%. Operating profit gives investors an opportunity to do profit-margin comparisons between companies that do not issue a separate disclosure of their cost of goods sold figures (which are needed to do gross margin analysis). AIRM's operating profit margin is 13.1%. Net profit margins are those generated from all phases of a business, including taxes. The company's net profit margin is 7.4%.

Understanding investment valuation ratios allows the investor to assess the true value of an individual stock. The capitalization ratio is calculated by dividing long-term debt by the sum of long-term debt and shareholders' equity. The capitalization ratio for AIRM is 61.7%, which is fairly high. The company may have trouble meeting operating and debt liabilities on time and surviving adverse economic conditions. The capitalization ratio is one of the more meaningful debt ratios because it focuses on the relationship of debt liabilities as a component of a company's total capital base, which is the capital raised by shareholders and lenders.

51job, Inc (Nasdaq:JOBS) is trading at $37.35 per share, down 7.4%. The company's volume is currently 88,393 shares for the day, consistent with its average over the last three months. Volume is also used as a secondary indicator to help confirm what the price movement is suggesting. Margin ratios highlight companies that are worth further examination. JOBS has a gross profit margin of 72%. Operating margin provides a measure of a company's ability to pay its fixed costs such as interest on debt, particular if its business were to decline in the future. JOBS has an operating profit margin of 36%. 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. The company has a net profit margin of 30.6%.

Looking at a company's valuation ratios is a good way of getting a basic idea as to its value as an investment. Perhaps one of the most widely-used stock analysis tools is the price-to-earnings ratio, or P/E. JOBS has a P/E ratio of 18.8. From the investor's perspective, a stock with a lower ratio is relatively cheaper than a stock with a higher ratio. SEE: Profit With The Power Of Price-To-Earnings

F5 Networks (Nasdaq:FFIV) has moved up 6.4% and is currently trading at $97.63 per share. So far today, 1.8 million shares of the company's stock have changed hands. Trading activity is down from yesterday when 1.8 million shares changed hands. As a stock moves up or down, it is important to pay attention to the trading volume. This indicates the level of interest: the higher the volume, the more the interest. There are many tools investors can use to evaluate a stock, including margins. Margins, quite simply, are earnings expressed as a ratio, or a percentage of sales, and this allows investors to compare the profitability of different companies, while net earnings, which are presented as an absolute number, cannot. FFIV has a high gross profit margin of 84.5%. This means that the company will have a lot of money left over to spend on other business operations, such as research and development or marketing. Operating margin for FFIV is 30.8% and net margin is 20.9%, both high relative to its gross margin.

Investors can use valuation ratios as tools to estimate what kind of deal a particular investment is. The price/earnings to growth (PEG) ratio can reveal value what price/earnings (P/E) ratios alone may not so that if a company has a high P/E ratio (an indication that its stock is overpriced) but its earnings are growing very quickly, the PEG ratio may reveal that the company is actually fairly valued, or perhaps even a bargain. FFIV's PEG ratio of 1.38 is in line with the industry average. 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 No matter the economic climate, Wall Street will always have stocks that make major moves each week. Daily stock performance should be weighed against historical performance and put in context of the market overall. However, these fundamental metrics must be analyzed with historic data, industry information in addition to firm specific financial statements.

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