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Tickers in this Article: CPN, CIG, NFG, BIP, MGEE, ITC, TCP
The market has been slipping so far today. The Nasdaq has slipped 0.9%; the S&P 500 has decreased 0.7%; and the Dow is trading down 0.7%. The utilities sector is a category of stocks for utilities such as gas and power. It contains companies such as electric, gas and water firms and integrated providers. Because utilities require significant infrastructure, these firms often carry large amounts of debt. With a high debt load, utilities companies become sensitive to changes in the interest rate. As interest rates rise or drop, the debt payments will increase or decrease. The utilities sector performs best when interest rates are falling or remain low.

The Utilities sector (XLU) is currently ahead of the overall market, down only 0.4%, and its biggest movers are currently:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Calpine (NYSE:CPN)$8.13 billion+2.5%
Companhia Energetica Minas Gerais (NYSE:CIG)$12.62 billion-2.3%
National Fuel (NYSE:NFG)$4.2 billion-1.2%
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (NYSE:BIP)$5.01 billion-1.2%
MGE Energy (Nasdaq:MGEE)$1.16 billion-1.2%
ITC (NYSE:ITC)$3.75 billion-1%
TC (NYSE:TCP)$2.44 billion-1%
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Calpine (NYSE:CPN) has moved up 2.5% and is currently trading at $17.86 per share. At 2.4 million shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.7 times the current daily average. If a stock price makes a big move up or down, volume lets us know the significance of that move. 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. In a nutshell, the price/sales ratio shows how much Wall Street values every dollar of the company's sales. The P/S ratio for CPN is a high 1.33. This could be a good sign if the share price increases. 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.

At $18.06, Companhia Energetica Minas Gerais (NYSE:CIG) has slipped 2.3%. So far today, the company's volume is 334,466 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 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 debt ratio shows the proportion of assets that a company is financing through debt. CIG has a high debt ratio of 65.7%. As such, the company is highly leveraged and not highly liquid. 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.

National Fuel (NYSE:NFG) has decreased to $49.81 per share, a 1.2% fall. At 79,202 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.3 times its average over the past three months. Volume is an important indicator because it indicates how significant a price shift is. 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 debt-equity (D/E) ratio is a leverage ratio. NFG's D/E ratio is 70%. 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.

Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (NYSE:BIP) is currently trading at a share price of $34.47, a 1.2% decline. So far today, 127,719 shares of the company's stock have changed hands. This is about the same trading activity as there was yesterday. 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. 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 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. BIP's capitalization ratio of 52.4% is relatively high. The company may have trouble meeting operating and debt liabilities on time and surviving adverse economic conditions. 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.

Falling 1.2%, MGE Energy (Nasdaq:MGEE) is currently at a share price of $49.66. The company's volume is currently 2,343 shares for the day, 0.1 times the average daily volume. 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. Investors can make use of valuation ratios to estimate whether a stock is fairly valued. 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. Dividend yield for MGEE is 3.1%. 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: Investment Valuation Ratios: Dividend Yield

ITC (NYSE:ITC) is trading at $72.12 per share, down 1%. The company's volume for the day so far is 32,262 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. Investment valuation ratios can be very useful in estimating whether a stock price is too high, reasonable or a bargain investment opportunity. When used consistently and uniformly, the price/earnings to growth (PEG) ratio is an essential tool that adds dimension to the price/earnings ratio, allows comparisons across diverse industries and is always on the lookout for value. PEG ratio for ITC is 1.45. 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.

TC (NYSE:TCP) has decreased to $45.10 per share, a 1% fall. With 7,501 shares changing hands so far today, the company's volume is 0.1 times its current three-month average. High volume indicates a lot of investor interest while low volume indicates the opposite. 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. 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. TCP's P/B ratio of 1.83 shows that its share price is higher than its book value. It is important to take the company's debt into account when using the P/B ratio as debt can boost a company's liabilities to the point where they wipe out much of the book value of its hard assets, creating artificially high P/B values. P/B value ratios are particularly useful to value investors, distressed or "vulture" investors, or any other investors purchasing beaten-down securities but are less useful to investors focused on growth stocks, purchasing IPOs, or investing in technology or other "asset-lite" companies. SEE: Using The Price-To-Book Ratio To Evaluate Companies

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. However, these fundamental metrics must be analyzed with historic data, industry information in addition to firm specific financial statements.

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