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Tickers in this Article: FMER, CNS, EVR, ACTG, SBR, TROW, IBN
The market is doing well so far today. The Nasdaq has risen 0.3%; the S&P 500 is up 0.1%; and the Dow has climbed 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.

Underperforming the market overall, the Financial sector (XLF) is up 0.2%, and these are its current biggest movers:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Firstmerit (Nasdaq:FMER).88 billion-10.8%
Cohen & Steers (NYSE:CNS).43 billion-3.3%
Evercore Partners (NYSE:EVR)0.4 million+3%
Acacia (Nasdaq:ACTG).36 billion+2.4%
Sabine (NYSE:SBR)9.3 million-2.4%
T Rowe (Nasdaq:TROW).09 billion-2%
ICICI Bank Limited (NYSE:IBN).27 billion+1.8%
Forex Broker Summary: UFXMarkets

Firstmerit (Nasdaq:FMER) is currently trading at $15.31 per share, after a steep drop of 10.8%. So far this morning, 4.7 million shares have changed hands. This is seven times its average daily volume. High volume indicates a lot of investor interest while low volume indicates the opposite. When estimating the value of a particular investment, valuation ratios provide a good basis for assessing the value of an individual stock. For investors primarily interested in the income a stock can generate, the dividend yield is an important determinant of how attractive a stock is. Dividend yield for FMER is 3.7%. Just as with the yield on a bond or certificate of deposit, the higher the dividend yield, the higher the return to the investor. SEE: Dividend Yield For The Downturn

Cohen & Steers (NYSE:CNS) is currently trading at a share price of $31.52, a 3.3% decline. So far today, the company's volume is 108,202 shares. The trading volume for a stock indicates the level of investor 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. As with most ratios, comparisons of company price/earnings to growth ratios (PEG ratios) are most appropriate for similar companies. CNS' PEG ratio of 1.35 is in line 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.

After rising 3%, Evercore Partners (NYSE:EVR) is currently trading at a share price of $26.05. The company's volume for the day so far is 206,246 shares, 0.8 times its current three-month average. If a stock price moves on high volume, this means that the change is a significant one. Valuation ratios allow the investor to make a quick determination as to a company's investment value. 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. EVR has a P/B ratio of 1.83 which shows that its share price is higher than its book value. This may be a sign that the company is overvalued. Users need to be careful when applying this ratio though, as it is more useful for industrial companies that have a lot of tangible assets than it is for technology or consumer product companies that may not have much in the way of hard assets. SEE: Using The Price-To-Book Ratio To Evaluate Companies

Increasing 2.4%, Acacia (Nasdaq:ACTG) is trading at $28.05 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 232,764 shares. Volume indicates the level of interest that investors have in a company at its current price. 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. Perhaps one of the most widely-used stock analysis tools is the price-to-earnings ratio, or P/E. ACTG has a P/E ratio of 20.1, high compared to the industry average of 17.07. This could mean that the market is expecting big things over the next few months or years. A high P/E ratio indicates a stock that is expensive, while a low P/E ratio indicates a stock that is cheap. SEE: How To Find P/E And PEG Ratios

Sabine (NYSE:SBR) has decreased to $52.19 per share, a 2.4% fall. The company's volume is currently 14,316 shares for the day, 0.4 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. 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 price/sales ratio measures a company's stock market price by its revenues. SBR has a high P/S ratio of 11.99. In young companies, a high P/S ratio is a sign of sales growth that is expected to turn into earnings and cash flow. 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.

T Rowe (Nasdaq:TROW) is trading at $62.09 per share, down 2%. So far today, 567,788 shares have changed hands. Volume is also used as a secondary indicator to help confirm what the price movement is suggesting. Investors can use valuation ratios as tools to estimate what kind of deal a particular investment is. The debt ratio shows the proportion of assets that a company is financing through debt. TROW has a low debt ratio of 11.2%. A low debt ratio means the company has more available cash flow. As with all financial ratios, a company's debt ratio should be compared with the industry average or similar companies.

ICICI Bank Limited (NYSE:IBN) has risen 1.8% to hit a current price of $35.78 per share. At 738,150 shares, the company's volume so far today is in keeping with the average volume over the past three months. Volume is used to evaluate how meaningful the price movement of a stock is. Investment valuation ratios provide investors with an estimation, albeit a simplistic one, of the value of a stock. The debt-equity (D/E) ratio is a leverage ratio. The D/E ratio for IBN is 218%. Generally, a high D/E ratio means that the company may have difficulty generating enough cash to pay off its debts. The D/E ratio percentage provides a much more dramatic perspective on a company's leverage position than the debt ratio percentage.

The Bottom Line On any given day, a particular stock may see positive or negative change in its share price. Daily stock performance should be weighed against historical performance and put in context of the market overall. 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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