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Tickers in this Article: FSLR, BIDU, SSYS, ASMI, VCRA, SINA, FIRE
After the morning's trading, the Nasdaq is trading down 0.2%, the S&P 500 remains relatively unchanged and the Dow is unchanged. The technology sector is a category of stocks relating to the research, development and/or distribution of technologically based goods and services. This sector contains businesses revolving around the manufacturing of electronics, creation of software, computers or products and services relating to information technology. The technology sector offers a wide arrange of products and services for both customers and other businesses. Consumer goods like personal computers, stereos and televisions are continually improved and upgraded, offering the latest technology to all users. Businesses receive information and services from software and database systems, which allow the companies to make strategic business decisions.

The Technology sector (XLK) has risen 0.1% despite little change in the market overall. Currently, the biggest movers in the sector are:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR)$2.24 billion-5.6%
Baidu (Nasdaq:BIDU)$42.14 billion-4.4%
Stratasys (Nasdaq:SSYS)$1.41 billion+4%
ASM International (Nasdaq:ASMI)$1.86 billion+3.5%
Vocera Communications (NYSE:VCRA)$628.1 million+3.4%
SINA Corporation (Nasdaq:SINA)$3.72 billion+2.9%
Sourcefire (Nasdaq:FIRE)$1.57 billion+2.5%
Beginner's Guide To

Currently trading at $24.26 per share, First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR) has fallen 5.6%. With 3.7 million shares changing hands so far today, the company's volume is in keeping with the average volume over the past three months. High volume indicates a lot of investor interest while low volume indicates the opposite. Valuation ratios allow the investor to make a quick determination as to a company's investment value. In a nutshell, the price/sales ratio shows how much Wall Street values every dollar of the company's sales. FSLR has a low P/S ratio of 0.42. A company with a lower P/S ratio is generally considered more attractive, since investors are paying less for each dollar of sales. It is important to compare P/S ratios for companies in the same industry, as ratios can vary quite widely for companies in different industries.

Baidu (Nasdaq:BIDU) has decreased to $115.26 per share, a 4.4% fall. So far this morning, 4.8 million shares have changed hands. This is 0.7 times its average daily volume. Volume is also used as a secondary indicator to help confirm what the price movement is suggesting. 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 easy-to-calculate debt ratio is helpful to investors looking for a quick take on the leverage for a company. The debt ratio for BIDU is a low 29.9%. 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.

Stratasys (Nasdaq:SSYS) is up 4% to reach a current price of $68.54 per share. So far today, 347,821 shares have changed hands, with trading activity in keeping with yesterday's. Volume is used to evaluate how meaningful the price movement of a stock is. Looking at a company's valuation ratios is a good way of getting a basic idea as to its value as an investment. 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. PEG ratio for SSYS is 4.04. 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.

ASM International (Nasdaq:ASMI) is up 3.5% to reach a current price of $35.02 per share. So far today, 9,300 shares have changed hands. If a stock price makes a big move up or down, volume lets us know the significance of that move. Understanding investment valuation ratios allows an investor to assess the true value of an individual stock. The capitalization ratio measures the debt component of the capital structure, or capitalization of a company (i.e., the sum of long-term debt liabilities and shareholder equity) to support operations and growth. ASMI's capitalization ratio is 18.6%, which is relatively low. Low leverage is a significant balance sheet strength, a sign of a less risky investment. 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.

Vocera Communications (NYSE:VCRA) has increased to a share price of $29.28, a 3.4% rise. At 24,711 shares, the company's volume so far today is consistent with its current three-month average. If a stock price moves on high volume, this means that the change is a significant one. When estimating the value of a particular investment, valuation ratios provide a good basis for assessing the value of an individual stock. The price/book value ratio is one of the more common methods of determining whether a stock is fairly valued. VCRA's stock is trading for more than its book value with a P/B ratio of 8.18. 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. To put things in perspective, should be made among companies in the same industry rather than across industries. SEE: Using The Price-To-Book Ratio To Evaluate Companies

After rising 2.9%, SINA Corporation (Nasdaq:SINA) is currently trading at a share price of $57.69. The company's volume for the morning is 1.4 million shares. This is in keeping with its current daily average. When a stock price moves up or down, watching the volume is a good way of identifying how significant that shift is. Investment valuation ratios can be very useful in estimating whether a stock price is too high, reasonable or a bargain investment opportunity. The price/sales ratio measures a company's stock market value by its total revenues or alternatively, a company's price per share by its revenue per share. SINA's P/S ratio of 6.86 is on the high side. This could be a good sign if the share price increases. A limitation of the P/S ratio is that the price component measures only stock market captialization, while sales are a function of the entire capital structure, potentially leading to wide differences between levered and unlevered companies.

Sourcefire (Nasdaq:FIRE) has risen 2.5% and is currently trading at $53.74 per share. The company's volume is currently 183,083 shares for the day, consistent with the volume from yesterday which is likely to result in less activity than yesterday's volume of 383,110 shares. 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. Investment valuation ratios provide investors with an estimation, albeit a simplistic one, of the value of a stock. The debt ratio is calculated by dividing total liabilities by total assets. FIRE has a debt ratio of 29.4%, which is fairly low. 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. As with all financial ratios, a company's debt ratio should be compared with the industry average or similar companies.

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. Keep in mind that all these ratios should be compared against historical numbers and industry information in order to get a more complete picture.

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