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Tickers in this Article: BPT, AREX, APAGF, COG, SWN, MPC, IOC
The market is on the rise this morning. The Nasdaq is trading up 0.1%; the S&P 500 has climbed 0.1%; and the Dow has increased 0.1%.

Outperforming the market overall, the Oil and Gas Operations sector (DIG) is up 0.3% and its biggest movers so far today are:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
BP Prudhoe Bay (NYSE:BPT)$2.19 billion-5.3%
Approach Resources (Nasdaq:AREX)$943.6 million+3.5%
Apco Oil & Gas International (Nasdaq:APAGF)$512 million-2.9%
Cabot Oil & Gas (NYSE:COG)$8.87 billion-1.8%
Southwestern Energy (NYSE:SWN)$11.14 billion-1.7%
Marathon (NYSE:MPC)$16.78 billion+1.6%
InterOil Corporation (NYSE:IOC)$3.93 billion+1.5%
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BP Prudhoe Bay (NYSE:BPT) is trading at $97 per share, down 5.3%. The company's volume is currently 707,984 shares for the day, 2.5 times its average over the past three months. The trading volume for a stock indicates the level of investor interest. Investment valuation ratios provide investors with an estimation, albeit a simplistic one, of the value of a stock. 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. The P/B ratio for BPT is 4850.0, indicating that the stock is trading for more 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. 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: Investment Valuation Ratios: Price/Book Value Ratio

After rising 3.5%, Approach Resources (Nasdaq:AREX) is currently trading at a share price of $29.13. So far today, the company's volume is 194,364 shares. Volume is an important indicator because it indicates how significant a price shift is. Investors can make use of valuation ratios to estimate whether a stock is fairly valued. The P/E ratio has been used for ages by analysts and still remains one of the most relevant pieces of stock valuation. Compared to the industry average of 14.85, AREX's P/E ratio of 138.1 is quite high. A company with a high P/E ratio will eventually have to live up to the high rating by substantially increasing its earnings, or the price will need to drop. High P/E stocks could be "growth" stocks, while low PE stocks may be "value" stocks. SEE: The P/E Ratio: A Good Market-Timing Indicator

Apco Oil & Gas International (Nasdaq:APAGF) has fallen 2.9% and is currently trading at $16.88 per share. The company's volume is currently 9,433 shares for the day, 0.7 times its current daily average. Volume indicates the level of interest that investors have in a company at its current price. 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. The debt ratio measures the leverage of a company, and a company's leverage is a good way to assess risk. APAGF's debt ratio of 11.9% is on the low side. A low debt ratio means the company has more available cash flow. 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.

Currently trading at $41.50 per share, Cabot Oil & Gas (NYSE:COG) has fallen 1.8%. The company is trading at a volume of 619,722 shares. At this rate, trading activity will likely be down from yesterday when 1.9 million shares changed hands. A stock's volume conveys how excited investors are about it. When estimating the value of a particular investment, valuation ratios provide a good basis for assessing the value of an individual stock. A price/sales ratio is derived by dividing stock market price by company sales. COG has a high P/S ratio of 7.74. In young companies, a high P/S ratio is a sign of sales growth that is expected to turn into earnings and cash flow. All things being equal, a low P/S ratio is good news for investors, while a very high one can be a warning sign.

Slipping 1.7%, Southwestern Energy (NYSE:SWN) is currently trading at $31.36 per share. At 980,169 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.3 times its current three-month average. Volume is used to evaluate how meaningful the price movement of a stock 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 capitalization ratio is calculated by dividing long-term debt by the sum of long-term debt and shareholders' equity. SWN has a capitalization ratio of 32.2%. 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.

After an increase of 1.6%, Marathon (NYSE:MPC) has reached a current price of $50.39. So far today, 879,349 shares have changed hands. 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. 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. PEG ratio for MPC is consistent with the industry average at 0.93. Because of the adjustment for earnings growth rate, the PEG ratio is somewhat more useful than many formulas for comparing companies in different industries.

Increasing 1.5%, InterOil Corporation (NYSE:IOC) is trading at $82.57 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 253,206 shares, 0.2 times the current daily average. 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. 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. IOC's stock is trading for more than its book value with a P/B ratio of 11.26. This implies that investors expect management to create more value from a given set of assets and/or that the market value of the firm's assets is significantly higher than their accounting value. 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: How Buybacks Warps The Price-To-Book Ratio

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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