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Tickers in this Article: NRGY, MPC, VLO, GPOR, SNP, CIE, AREX
This morning's trading has marked a bad day for the market so far. The Nasdaq has slipped 0.2%; the S&P 500 has declined 0.2%; and the Dow is trading down 0.2%.

While the market overall has shown little change, the Oil and Gas Operations sector (DIG) is up 0.2% and its current biggest movers are:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Inergy (NYSE:NRGY)$2.89 billion-16.2%
Marathon (NYSE:MPC)$18.81 billion-4%
Valero (NYSE:VLO)$18.62 billion-3.9%
Gulfport (Nasdaq:GPOR)$1.76 billion+3.8%
China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (NYSE:SNP)$82.99 billion-3%
Cobalt International Energy (NYSE:CIE)$10.16 billion+2.3%
Approach Resources (Nasdaq:AREX)$1.16 billion-2.3%
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After a precipitous drop of 16.2%, Inergy (NYSE:NRGY) is now trading at a share price of $18.38. The company is currently trading a volume of 253,844 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. Investment valuation ratios provide investors with an estimation, albeit a simplistic one, of the value of a stock. While measuring a price/earnings ratio (P/E ratio) is a popular valuation technique, the measure cannot be calculated for companies without earnings, so some investors analyze the price/sales ratio. NRGY's P/S ratio of 1.14 is on the high side. This could be a good sign if the share price increases. All things being equal, a low P/S ratio is good news for investors, while a very high one can be a warning sign.

Marathon (NYSE:MPC) is down 4% to reach $53.36 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 1.5 million shares, consistent with its current three-month average. The trading volume for a stock indicates the level of investor interest. 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. Perhaps one of the most widely-used stock analysis tools is the price-to-earnings ratio, or P/E. The P/E ratio for MPC is 7.9, below the industry average of 11.77. A low P/E ratio may indicate that the market expects relatively slower earnings growth. High P/E stocks could be "growth" stocks, while low PE stocks may be "value" stocks. SEE: How To Use The P/E Ratio And PEG To Tell The Future Of A Stock

After a decline of 3.9%, Valero (NYSE:VLO) has hit a share price of $32.43. The company's volume is currently 4.3 million shares. At this rate, trading activity will likely be down from yesterday when 11.6 million shares changed hands. High volume indicates a lot of investor interest while low volume indicates the opposite. 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 assumption with high price/earnings stocks (generally of the growth variety) is that investors are willing to buy at a high price because they believe that the stock has significant growth potential, and the price/earnings to growth (PEG) ratio helps investors determine the degree of reliability of that growth assumption. PEG ratio for VLO is 1.7. Because of the adjustment for earnings growth rate, the PEG ratio is somewhat more useful than many formulas for comparing companies in different industries.

Gulfport (Nasdaq:GPOR) has risen 3.8% to hit a current price of $32.75 per share. The company's volume is currently 884,567 shares for the day, 0.7 times the current daily average. Volume is used to evaluate how meaningful the price movement of a stock is. While investment valuation ratios are useful tools in estimating the attractiveness of an investment, remember that it is important to look at a company's historical performance and compare the company ratios with its competitors and industry overall. The price/book value ratio is especially important for value investors as it can provide an indication of the true value of a company's assets at a time when its business model may be failing. GPOR has a P/B ratio of 2.63 which shows that its share price is higher than its book value. This may be a sign that the company is overvalued. To put things in perspective, should be made among companies in the same industry rather than across industries. SEE: Investment Valuation Ratios: Price/Book Value Ratio

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (NYSE:SNP) has decreased to $92.70 per share, a 3% fall. This morning, the company is trading a volume of 53,533 shares. 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. When estimating the value of a particular investment, valuation ratios provide a good basis for assessing the 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. SNP's dividend yield is 2.9%. A stock's dividend yield depends on the nature of a company's business, its posture in the marketplace (value or growth oriented), its earnings and cash flow, and its dividend policy. SEE: Dividend Yield For The Downturn

Increasing 2.3%, Cobalt International Energy (NYSE:CIE) is trading at $25.31 per share. With 1.3 million shares changing hands so far today, the company's volume is 0.9 times the average volume over the last three months. If a stock price moves on high volume, this means that the change is a significant one. Understanding investment valuation ratios allows an investor to assess the true value of an individual stock. The debt ratio gives users a quick measure of the amount of debt that the company has on its balance sheets compared to its assets. CIE has a debt ratio of 12%, which is fairly low. 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.

Approach Resources (Nasdaq:AREX) has fallen 2.3% and is currently trading at $33.83 per share. The company is trading at a volume of 77,583 shares. This is on pace to fall short of yesterday's volume of 766,179 shares. When a stock price moves up or down, watching the volume is a good way of identifying how significant that shift is. 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. 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. AREX has a fairly low capitalization ratio of 23.2%. Investors generally consider a company with low debt and high equity levels is a good quality 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.

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