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Tickers in this Article: UHAL, PAC, GSH, ODFL, ZNH, CP, JBHT
The market is currently down, with the Nasdaq slipping 0.8%, the S&P 500 down 0.7% and the Dow declining 0.7%. The transportation sector is a category of stocks relating to the transportation of goods or customers. It is made up of airlines, railroads and trucking companies. The performance of the transportation sector is sensitive to the price of oil. Because operations revolve around the use of vehicles, fuel prices represent a significant cost to transportation companies. As the price of oil rises, transportation companies will be expected to earn less. Inversely, these companies do well when the cost of fuel decreases.

The Transportation sector (IYT) is down 1%, underperforming the market overall. The current biggest movers in the sector are:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
AMERCO (Nasdaq:UHAL)$2.14 billion-3%
Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico (NYSE:PAC)$2.38 billion+2.4%
Guangshen Railway Co. Ltd (NYSE:GSH)$2.12 billion+2.2%
Old Dominion Freight (Nasdaq:ODFL)$2.64 billion-2.1%
China Southern Airlines Limited (NYSE:ZNH)$4.21 billion+2%
Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (NYSE:CP)$14.52 billion-1.9%
J.B. Hunt Transport Services (Nasdaq:JBHT)$6.22 billion-1.8%
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AMERCO (Nasdaq:UHAL) is down 3% to reach $106.12 per share. The company's volume for the day so far is 5,159 shares, 0.1 times its average over the past three months. 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 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. Perhaps one of the most widely-used stock analysis tools is the price-to-earnings ratio, or P/E. UHAL is in line with the industry average with a P/E ratio of 10.3. 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: Understanding The P/E Ratio

Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico (NYSE:PAC) has moved up 2.4% and is currently trading at $43.35 per share. The company's volume for the day so far is 132,209 shares. 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 compares the total liabilities for a company to its total shareholder equity. The debt-equity ratio of 8% is relatively low. A low D/E ratio may be a sign that the company is not taking advantage of leverage to increase its profits. This easy-to-calculate ratio provides a general indication of a company's equity-liability relationship and is helpful to investors looking for a quick take on a company's leverage.

Guangshen Railway Co. Ltd (NYSE:GSH) has risen 2.2% to hit a current price of $15.90 per share. The company's volume is currently 12,451 shares for the day, lighter than yesterday's volume of 109,193 shares. Volume indicates the level of interest that investors have in a company at its current price. Investment valuation ratios can be very useful in estimating whether a stock price is too high, reasonable or a bargain investment opportunity. A company's capitalization (not to be confused with its market capitalization) is the term used to describe the makeup of a company's permanent or long-term capital, which consists of both long-term debt and shareholders' equity. The capitalizion ratio of 12.1% is on the low end. A low capitalization ratio can signify a failure to leverage equity into investment, missing valuable opportunities for growth and expansion. Prudent use of leverage (debt) increases the financial resources available to a company for growth and expansion.

After a decline of 2.1%, Old Dominion Freight (Nasdaq:ODFL) has hit a share price of $29.94. The company's volume for the morning is 65,976 shares. This is 0.1 times its average daily volume. Volume is used to evaluate how meaningful the price movement of a stock is. When estimating the value of a particular investment, valuation ratios provide a good basis for assessing the value of an individual stock. As with most ratios, comparisons of company price/earnings to growth ratios (PEG ratios) are most appropriate for similar companies. ODFL's PEG ratio of 0.66 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.

China Southern Airlines Limited (NYSE:ZNH) is currently trading at $21.88 per share, a 2% increase. At 11,348 shares, the company's volume so far today is consistent with its average over the last three months. The trading volume for a stock indicates the level of investor interest. A wide array of ratios can be used by investors to estimate the attractiveness of a potential or existing investment and get an idea of its valuation. 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. ZNH's stock is trading for less than its book value as can be seen from it's P/B value of 0.84. 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. Users need to be careful when applying this ratio though, as it is more useful for industrial companies that have a lot of tangible assets than it is for technology or consumer product companies that may not have much in the way of hard assets. SEE: How Buybacks Warps The Price-To-Book Ratio

Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (NYSE:CP) has fallen 1.9% and is currently trading at $82.45 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 107,942 shares. A stock's volume conveys how excited investors are about it. Understanding investment valuation ratios allows an investor to assess the true value of an individual stock. The dividend yield is measured by taking the annual dividends per share and dividing that number by the stock price. CP has a low dividend yield of 1.7%. A company with a low dividend yield may be a safer investment in the long run. It is important to remember that dividends are only one component of a stock's return and capital appreciation (or decline) must also be considered when evaluating a security. SEE: Investment Valuation Ratios: Dividend Yield

Slipping 1.8%, J.B. Hunt Transport Services (Nasdaq:JBHT) is currently trading at $51.99 per share. This morning, 198,781 shares have been traded, which is likely to result in less activity than yesterday's volume of 848,082 shares. If a stock price moves on high volume, this means that the change is a significant one. 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. 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. JBHT's P/S ratio of 1.45 is on the high side. 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 The nature of the market is such that stocks will have good days and bad days. It is important to weigh current activity against historical performance when making any investment decisions. However, these fundamental metrics must be analyzed with historic data, industry information in addition to firm specific financial statements.

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