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Tickers in this Article: NFX, SM, COG, CLR, NGLS, COP, XEC
The Nasdaq has decreased 0.8%, the S&P 500 has declined 0.2% and the Dow has moved up 0.4% after the morning's trading.

These are the biggest movers in the Oil and Gas Operations sector (DIG) (+1.2%):
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Newfield Exploration (NYSE:NFX)$4.11 billion-3.5%
SM Energy Co. (NYSE:SM)$3.1 billion-3.4%
Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (NYSE:COG)$8.29 billion-3.3%
Continental Resources, Inc. (NYSE:CLR)$12.62 billion-2.8%
Targa Resources Partners LP (NYSE:NGLS)$3.33 billion-2.8%
ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP)$69.1 billion-2.5%
Cimarex Energy Co. (NYSE:XEC)$4.65 billion-2.1%
Broker Summary: Fidelity Online Brokerage

Newfield Exploration (NYSE:NFX) is currently trading at a share price of $29.39, a 3.5% decline. This morning, the company is trading a volume of 1.7 million shares. Volume is an important indicator because it indicates how significant a price shift is. Investors can make use of valuation ratios to estimate whether a stock is fairly valued. The price/book value ratio provides a way of evaluating whether a stock is relatively cheap or expensive. The P/B ratio for NFX is 0.98 because the stock is trading for less than its book value. This could mean that either the market believes the asset value is overstated, or the company is earning a very poor (even negative) return on its assets. P/B has its shortcomings but is still widely used as a valuation metric, more relevant for use by investors looking at capital-intensive or finance-related businesses, such as banks; book value does not carry much meaning for service-based firms with few tangible assets. SEE: Using The Price-To-Book Ratio To Evaluate Companies

Slipping 3.4%, SM (NYSE:SM) is currently trading at $46.62 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 363,997 shares, 0.3 times its current three-month average. 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. Understanding investment valuation ratios allows an investor to assess the true value of an individual stock. The debt-equity (D/E) ratio is a measurement of how much suppliers, lenders, creditors and obligors have committed to the company versus what the shareholders have committed. SM's D/E ratio is 68%. The D/E ratio percentage provides a much more dramatic perspective on a company's leverage position than the debt ratio percentage.

Falling 3.3%, Cabot Oil & Gas (NYSE:COG) is currently at a share price of $38.20. So far today, the company's volume is 2.9 million shares. This is about the same trading activity as there was yesterday. Volume indicates the level of interest that investors have in a company at its current price. Investors can use valuation ratios as tools to estimate what kind of deal a particular investment is. The capitalization ratio is calculated by dividing long-term debt by the sum of long-term debt and shareholders' equity. COG's capitalization ratio is 32.3%. Prudent use of leverage (debt) increases the financial resources available to a company for growth and expansion.

Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR) is down 2.8% to reach $67.74 per share. The company's volume is currently 296,638 shares for the day, 0.2 times the average daily volume. In technical analysis, trading volume is used to determine the strength of a market indicator. A company's investment value can be 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. The price/earnings ratio is calculated by taking a stock price and dividing it by the earnings-per-share (EPS). P/E ratio for CLR is 21.7. A high or low P/E ratio is not good or bad in and of itself, but a company trading with a high P/E ratio must continue to post strong financial performance or its stock price is likely to fall. SEE: Investment Valuation Ratios: Price/Earnings Ratio

Targa Resources (NYSE:NGLS) has fallen 2.8% and is currently trading at $36.34 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 161,770 shares. If a stock price moves on high volume, this means that the change is a significant one. Investment valuation ratios can be very useful in estimating whether a stock price is too high, reasonable or a bargain investment opportunity. The price/earnings to growth (PEG) ratio divides a company's P/E ratio by its growth rate of earnings-per-share. PEG ratio for NGLS is 1.52. Because of the adjustment for earnings growth rate, the PEG ratio is somewhat more useful than many formulas for comparing companies in different industries.

At $53.29, ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) has slipped 2.5%. The company's volume is currently 4.5 million shares for the day, 0.6 times its average over the past three months. 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 a 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. 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. 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. COP's dividend yield is 4.8%. To calculate the dividend yield, divide the level of dividends by the stock price; the higher the yield, the more attractive the security. SEE: Dividend Yield For The Downturn

Cimarex (NYSE:XEC) is currently trading at a share price of $53.12, a 2.1% decline. So far today, 163,859 shares of the company's stock have changed hands. At this rate, trading activity will likely be down from yesterday when 680,787 shares changed hands. 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. Valuation ratios include 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. In a nutshell, the price/sales ratio shows how much Wall Street values every dollar of the company's sales. XEC has a high P/S ratio of 3.69. In young companies, a high P/S ratio is a sign of sales growth that is expected to turn into earnings and cash flow. 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.

The Bottom Line On any given day, a particular stock may see positive or negative change in its share price. 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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