China Petroleum & Chemical Corp Among Oil and Gas Operations' Biggest Movers on September 10, 2012

By Investopedia Staff | September 10, 2012 AAA

The Nasdaq is trading down 0.6%, the S&P 500 has moved little and the Dow has risen 0.1% after the morning's trading.

The Oil and Gas Operations sector (DIG) has climbed 0.3% so far today and here are its biggest movers:

Company Market Cap Percentage Change
Plains Exploration & Production (NYSE:PXP) $5.2 billion -9%
Mcmoran (NYSE:MMR) $2.16 billion -5.6%
Clayton Williams Energy (Nasdaq:CWEI) $650.9 million +3.3%
China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (NYSE:SNP) $78.26 billion +2%
Tesoro (NYSE:TSO) $5.61 billion +1.8%
Western Refining (NYSE:WNR) $2.5 billion -1.8%
Noble Energy (NYSE:NBL) $16.27 billion +1.8%

Software Summary: Finviz.com Stock Screener

Slipping 9%, Plains Exploration & Production (NYSE:PXP) is currently trading at $36.72 per share. The company is currently trading a volume of 10.7 million shares. The trading volume for a stock indicates the level of investor interest. 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. PXP has a P/B ratio of 1.42 which shows that its share price is higher than its book value. 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: How Buybacks Warps The Price-To-Book Ratio

Currently trading at $12.58 per share, Mcmoran (NYSE:MMR) has fallen 5.6%. With 1.5 million shares changing hands so far today, the company's volume is 0.8 times its current three-month average. Volume is an important indicator because it indicates how significant a price shift is. 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. The price/sales ratio is used for spotting recovery situations or for double-checking that a company's growth has not become overvalued. MMR has a high P/S ratio of 4.45. 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.

Clayton Williams Energy (Nasdaq:CWEI) is at $55.30 per share after an increase of 3.3%. The company's volume is currently 12,127 shares. At this rate, trading activity will likely be down from yesterday when 49,723 shares changed hands. When a stock price moves up or down, watching the volume is a good way of identifying how significant that shift is. Investors can use valuation ratios as tools to estimate what kind of deal a particular investment is. The debt ratio is calculated by dividing total liabilities by total assets. CWEI's debt ratio of 74.2% is fairly high. This means that the company's cash flow is significantly impacted by paying off principal and interest and that any negative change in performance or rise in interest rates could result in default. 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.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (NYSE:SNP) has risen 2% to hit a current price of $91.90 per share. At 61,926 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.9 times the average daily volume. In technical analysis, trading volume is used to determine the strength of a market indicator. Valuation ratios allow the investor to make a quick determination as to a company's investment value. For investors primarily interested in the income a stock can generate, the dividend yield is an important determinant of how attractive a stock is. SNP has a dividend yield of 3.1%. To calculate the dividend yield, divide the level of dividends by the stock price; the higher the yield, the more attractive the security. SEE: Investment Valuation Ratios: Dividend Yield

Tesoro (NYSE:TSO) has increased to a share price of $40.88, a 1.8% rise. This morning, the company is trading a volume of 1.9 million shares. Volume indicates the level of interest that investors have in a company at its current price. Understanding investment valuation ratios allows an investor to assess the true value of an individual stock. Using price/earnings ratios (P/E ratios) does not give an indication of whether or not an individual company's ratio is reasonable, a shortcoming that can be corrected by using the price/earnings to growth ratio (PEG ratio). PEG ratio for TSO is consistent with the industry average at 0.91. Because of the adjustment for earnings growth rate, the PEG ratio is somewhat more useful than many formulas for comparing companies in different industries.

Western Refining (NYSE:WNR) is down 1.8% to reach $26.98 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 687,903 shares, consistent with its average over the last three months. A stock's volume conveys how excited investors are about it. It is important for an investor to estimate the value of any potential or existing investment; valuation ratios make this easier. One of the favorite tools of many value investors is analyzing price/book value ratios, as it provides a measure of the underlying value of a company's assets as compared to the valuation of its equity. The P/B ratio for WNR is 2.44, indicating that the stock is trading for more than its book value. This may be a sign that the company is overvalued. 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: Investment Valuation Ratios: Price/Book Value Ratio

Rising 1.8%, Noble Energy (NYSE:NBL) is currently trading at $93.12 per share. The company is trading at a volume of 737,024 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. A company's price/earnings ratio (P/E ratio) provides a measure of how expensive or cheap a stock is. NBL has a P/E ratio of 23.7, high compared to the industry average of 20.88. Usually, if a stock has a high P/E ratio, it indicates that the market expects the company to grow earnings quickly in the future. High P/E stocks could be "growth" stocks, while low PE stocks may be "value" stocks. SEE: Profit With The Power Of Price-To-Earnings

The Bottom Line No matter the economic climate, Wall Street will always have stocks that make major moves each week. It is important to weigh current activity against historical performance when making any investment decisions. Tools like valuation ratios and profit margins, however, are only as useful as the context you put them in; remember to take historical data and competitor performance into account.

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