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Tickers in this Article: JNS, AB, ACTG, AGO, GBL, FCNCA, FLT
The market is having a bad day so far. The Nasdaq has decreased 0.2%; the S&P 500 has fallen 0.2%; and the Dow is down 0.2%. The financial sector is the category of stocks containing firms that provide financial services to commercial and retail customers. This sector includes banks, investment funds, insurance companies and real estate. Financial services perform best in low interest rate environments. A large portion of this sector generates revenue from mortgages and loans, which gain value as interest rates drop. Furthermore, when the business cycle is in an upswing, the financial sector benefits from additional investments. Improved economic conditions usually lead to more capital projects and increased personal investing. New projects require financing, which usually leads to a larger number of loans.

The Financial sector (XLF) is currently lagging behind the overall market, down 0.4%, and its current biggest movers are:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Janus Capital Group Inc. (NYSE:JNS)$1.44 billion+11.8%
AllianceBernstein Holding LP (NYSE:AB)$1.29 billion+5.9%
Acacia Research Corporation (Nasdaq:ACTG)$1.33 billion-5.3%
Assured Guaranty Ltd. (NYSE:AGO)$2.26 billion+3.7%
Gamco Investors Inc. (NYSE:GBL)$1.17 billion-2.6%
First Citizens BancShares Inc. (Nasdaq:FCNCA)$1.71 billion-2%
FleetCor Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:FLT)$3.33 billion+1.7%
Broker Summary: TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim

Janus Capital Group (NYSE:JNS) has soared 11.8% to reach a current price of $8.60 per share. The company's volume for the day so far is 9.6 million shares. Yesterday, volume was only one million shares. If a stock is trading on low volume, then there is not much interest in the stock. On the other hand, if a stock is trading on high volume, then there is a lot of interest in the stock. Investment valuation ratios can be very useful in estimating whether a stock price is too high, reasonable or a bargain investment opportunity. 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). JNS has a PEG ratio of 1.61, 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.

Rising 5.9%, AllianceBernstein (NYSE:AB) is currently trading at $12.94 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 141,180 shares, 0.7 times the average daily volume. Volume is used to evaluate how meaningful the price movement of a stock is. It is important for an investor to estimate the value of any potential or existing investment; valuation ratios make this easier. The price/book value ratio is calculated by dividing the current stock price by the company's book value per share. AB's stock is trading for less than its book value as can be seen from it's P/B value of 0.82. Industries that require more infrastructure capital (for each dollar of profit) will usually trade at P/B ratios much lower than those that don't. A weakness of the P/B value ratio is that while the price component is easily determined by looking at the stock quote, the book value component is more difficult to estimate and more open to individual interpretation and analysis. SEE: Using The Price-To-Book Ratio To Evaluate Companies

Acacia (Nasdaq:ACTG) is trading at $25.29 per share, down 5.3%. The company's volume for the day so far is 286,116 shares. Volume is also used as a secondary indicator to help confirm what the price movement is suggesting. 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. The price/sales ratio measures a company's stock market value by its total revenues or alternatively, a company's price per share by its revenue per share. The P/S ratio for ACTG is a high 8.39. 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.

Assured (NYSE:AGO) has risen 3.7% to hit a current price of $12.84 per share. At 1.3 million shares, the company's volume so far today is consistent with its current three-month average. A stock's volume conveys how excited investors are about it. Investment valuation ratios provide investors with an estimation, albeit a simplistic one, of the value of a stock. The debt ratio measures the leverage of a company, and a company's leverage is a good way to assess risk. AGO has a debt ratio of 77.4%, which is on the high side. 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.

Gamco Investors (NYSE:GBL) is currently trading at a share price of $42.91, a 2.6% decline. The company is trading at a volume of 2,695 shares. This is on pace to fall short of yesterday's volume of 9,185 shares. The trading volume for a stock indicates the level of investor interest. Looking at a company's valuation ratios is a good way of getting a basic idea as to its value as an investment. A simple P/E ratio can reveal the stock's real market value and show how the valuation compares to its industry group or a benchmark like the S&P 500 Index. GBL's P/E ratio of 16.0 falls below the industry average of 17.21. 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. To determine the P/E ratio, an investor divides the market price of the stock by the earnings-per-share (EPS) of the stock. SEE: How To Use The P/E Ratio And PEG To Tell The Future Of A Stock

Falling 2%, First Citizens BancShares (Nasdaq:FCNCA) is currently at a share price of $163.29. At 2,104 shares, the company's volume so far today is in keeping with its current daily average. When a stock price moves up or down, watching the volume is a good way of identifying how significant that shift is. 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 debt-equity (D/E) ratio is a measurement of how much suppliers, lenders, creditors and obligors have committed to the company versus what the shareholders have committed. FCNCA has a D/E ratio of 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.

FleetCor Technologies (NYSE:FLT) has risen 1.7% and is currently trading at $40.76 per share. The company is currently trading a volume of 378,022 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. 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 capitalization ratio is calculated by dividing long-term debt by the sum of long-term debt and shareholders' equity. FLT's capitalization ratio is 23.3%, which is relatively low. 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 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. However, these fundamental metrics must be analyzed with historic data, industry information in addition to firm specific financial statements.

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