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Tickers in this Article: BTH, MJN, LO, LNCE, SJM, CALM, CCU
The morning has been bad for the market. The Nasdaq has slipped 0.7%; the S&P 500 has declined 0.2%; and the Dow is trading down 0.2%.

Despite a bad day for the market overall so far, the Consumer/Non-Cyclical sector (XLP) is up 0.1% and its biggest movers are currently:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Blyth (NYSE:BTH)$602.6 million-6.6%
Mead Johnson (NYSE:MJN)$15.81 billion-3.1%
Lorillard (NYSE:LO)$15.99 billion-2.2%
Snyder S Lance (Nasdaq:LNCE)$1.69 billion+2%
JM (NYSE:SJM)$9.42 billion+1.8%
Cal-Maine Foods (Nasdaq:CALM)$1.02 billion+1.7%
Compania Cervecerias Unidas S.A (NYSE:CCU)$4.54 billion-1.5%
Broker Summary: TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim

Blyth (NYSE:BTH) has decreased to $32.66 per share, a 6.6% fall. So far today, 360,757 shares of the company's stock have changed hands. This is a sign that there will be less trading activity than there was yesterday. Volume is used to evaluate how meaningful the price movement of a stock is. Valuation ratios allow the investor to make a quick determination as to a company's investment value. The price/sales ratio is used for spotting recovery situations or for double-checking that a company's growth has not become overvalued. BTH has a P/S ratio of 0.72, on the low end. Low P/S ratios are more attractive than high ratios because this indicates that an investor is paying less for each dollar of sales. 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.

Slipping 3.1%, Mead Johnson (NYSE:MJN) is currently trading at $75.17 per share. At 879,382 shares, the company's volume so far today is consistent with its current daily average. The trading volume for a stock indicates the level of investor interest. When estimating the value of a particular investment, valuation ratios provide a good basis for assessing the value of an individual stock. 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. MJN has a capitalization ratio of 101.2%, which is on the high end. If the company is a company is in a highly competitive business and hobbled by high debt, it will find its competitors taking advantage of its problems to grab more market share. This ratio is considered to be one of the more meaningful of the "debt" ratios - it delivers the key insight into the use of leverage by a company.

Lorillard (NYSE:LO) is currently trading at a share price of $119.79, a 2.2% decline. So far today, 480,018 shares have changed hands. 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. 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. LO has a PEG ratio of 1.63, which is consistent with the industry average. Because of the adjustment for earnings growth rate, the PEG ratio is somewhat more useful than many formulas for comparing companies in different industries.

Snyder S Lance (Nasdaq:LNCE) has risen 2% and is currently trading at $25.18 per share. At 28,254 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.1 times its current three-month average. If a stock price makes a big move up or down, volume lets us know the significance of that move. 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. 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 LNCE is 2.01, indicating that the stock is trading for more 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 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

Rising 1.8%, JM (NYSE:SJM) is currently trading at $87.58 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 356,254 shares. At this rate, trading activity will likely be down from yesterday when 993,428 shares changed hands. In technical analysis, trading volume is used to determine the strength of a market indicator. It is important for an investor to estimate the value of any potential or existing investment; valuation ratios make this easier. For investors primarily interested in the income a stock can generate, the dividend yield is an important determinant of how attractive a stock is. SJM's dividend yield is 2.4%. For income-oriented investors such as retirees, a stock with a high dividend yield may be more attractive than a stock with a low dividend yield. SEE: Guide To Stock-Picking Strategies: Income Investing

After an increase of 1.7%, Cal-Maine Foods (Nasdaq:CALM) has reached a current price of $43.38. At 17,356 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.2 times its current daily 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. 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 price/earnings ratio is calculated by taking a stock price and dividing it by the earnings-per-share (EPS). The P/E ratio for CALM is 11.4, below the industry average of 39.54. A low P/E might arise due to substantial inherent risk of the firm and its operations, poor return on equity, or improper valuation of the market. From the investor's perspective, a stock with a lower ratio is relatively cheaper than a stock with a higher ratio. SEE: Investment Valuation Ratios: Price/Earnings Ratio

Falling 1.5%, Compania Cervecerias Unidas S.A (NYSE:CCU) is currently at a share price of $70.25. This morning, the company is trading a volume of 9,512 shares. Volume is also used as a secondary indicator to help confirm what the price movement is suggesting. Looking at a company's valuation ratios is a good way of getting a basic idea as to its value as an investment. The easy-to-calculate debt ratio is helpful to investors looking for a quick take on the leverage for a company. The debt ratio for CCU is 52.8%. 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.

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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