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Tickers in this Article: BTH, OC, RAH, RDEN, CLX, UNFI, EL
The Nasdaq is trading down 1%, the S&P 500 has declined 0.5% and the Dow has fallen 0.2%, marking a bad morning for the market.

The Consumer/Non-Cyclical sector (XLP) has risen 0.3% despite little change in the market overall. Currently, the biggest movers in the sector are:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Blyth (NYSE:BTH)$561.6 million-13.8%
Owens (NYSE:OC)$4.08 billion-3.2%
Ralcorp Holdings (NYSE:RAH)$4.02 billion-2%
Elizabeth Arden (Nasdaq:RDEN)$1.37 billion-1.9%
Clorox (NYSE:CLX)$9.25 billion+1.9%
United Natural Foods (Nasdaq:UNFI)$2.91 billion-1.8%
Estee Lauder (NYSE:EL)$14.6 billion-1.7%
Beginner's Guide To

Blyth (NYSE:BTH) is at a share price of $28.07 after a sharp decline of 13.8%. So far today, the company's volume is 2.5 million shares. In technical analysis, trading volume is used to determine the strength of a market indicator. When estimating the value of a particular investment, valuation ratios provide a good basis for assessing the value of an individual stock. 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. BTH's dividend yield of 0.6% is fairly low. This may indicate that the company's stock is overpriced. 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

Owens (NYSE:OC) has decreased to $33.28 per share, a 3.2% fall. The company's volume is currently 647,497 shares for the day, with trading activity in keeping with yesterday's on pace to finish the day below yesterday's volume of 1.5 million shares. Volume is an important indicator because it indicates how significant a price shift is. Valuation ratios allow the investor to make a quick determination as to a company's investment value. The price/sales ratio measures a company's stock market price by its revenues. The P/S ratio for OC is 0.63, which is relatively low. Highly levered companies are likely to have lower P/S ratios because the price aspect of this ratio only measures stock market valuation while sales is a function of both stock market and bond market capitalization. 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 2%, Ralcorp Holdings (NYSE:RAH) is currently trading at $71.51 per share. The company's volume for the day so far is 1.2 million shares. This is 4.3 times the current daily average. A stock's volume conveys how excited investors are about it. 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/book value ratio is one of the more common methods of determining whether a stock is fairly valued. RAH's P/B ratio of 2.33 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. One problem with the P/B value ratio is that it can be difficult to calculate the true book value of a company, so investors should be aware that many measures of book value may provide only a rough estimate, and should be taken with a grain of salt. SEE: How Buybacks Warps The Price-To-Book Ratio

Elizabeth Arden (Nasdaq:RDEN) is down 1.9% to reach $45.72 per share. The company's volume is currently 61,262 shares for the day, 0.4 times the average volume over the last three months. The trading volume for a stock indicates the level of investor interest. Investment valuation ratios can be very useful in estimating whether a stock price is too high, reasonable or a bargain investment opportunity. The price/sales ratio is used for spotting recovery situations or for double-checking that a company's growth has not become overvalued. RDEN has a P/S ratio of 0.92, on the low end. The lower the P/S ratio, the more reasonably price the stock, all else being equal. It is important to keep in mind when looking at the P/S ratio that just because a company is generating revenues, this does not mean that the company is profitable, and in the long run, profits drive stock prices.

Increasing 1.9%, Clorox (NYSE:CLX) is trading at $72.72 per share. The company's volume for the day so far is 301,878 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 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 gives users a quick measure of the amount of debt that the company has on its balance sheets compared to its assets. CLX has a high debt ratio of 103.1%. This means that most of the company's assets are financed through debt. 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.

At $58.47, United Natural Foods (Nasdaq:UNFI) has slipped 1.8%. This morning, 85,220 shares have been traded, while it was 336,445 shares 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. Investment valuation ratios provide investors with an estimation, albeit a simplistic one, of the value of a stock. A company's price/earnings ratio (P/E ratio) provides a measure of how expensive or cheap a stock is. The P/E ratio for UNFI is 32.5, above the industry average of 27.1. 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

After a decline of 1.7%, Estee Lauder (NYSE:EL) has hit a share price of $60.34. So far this morning, 741,192 shares have changed hands. This is 0.4 times its average daily volume. If a stock price makes a big move up or down, volume lets us know the significance of that move. It is important for an investor to estimate the value of any potential or existing investment; valuation ratios make this easier. To a large degree, the debt-equity (D/E) ratio provides another vantage point on a company's leverage position, in this case, comparing total liabilities to shareholders' equity, as opposed to total assets in the debt ratio. EL's debt-equity ratio of 47% is on the low end. 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.

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. 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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