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Tickers in this Article: TSEM, VECO, FSLR, MFLX, MLNX, ASMI, CAVM
On a bad day for the market, the Nasdaq is trading down 0.3%, the S&P 500 has declined 0.4% and the Dow has slipped 0.5%.

The Semiconductors sector (XLK) is down 0.2%, outperforming the market overall. Currently, the biggest movers in the sector are:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Tower Semiconductor Ltd. (USA) (Nasdaq:TSEM)$2.86 billion-10.5%
Veeco Instruments Inc. (Nasdaq:VECO)$1.48 billion-6.4%
First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR)$1.86 billion-5.4%
Multi-Fineline Electronix, Inc. (Nasdaq:MFLX)$623.7 million-4.6%
Mellanox Technologies, Ltd. (Nasdaq:MLNX)$4.66 billion-3.8%
ASM International N.V. (Nasdaq:ASMI)$1.96 billion-3.7%
Cavium Inc (Nasdaq:CAVM)$1.61 billion-2.9%
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Tower Semiconductor Ltd (Nasdaq:TSEM) is currently trading at $7.94 per share, after a steep drop of 10.5%. So far today, the company's volume is 64,609 shares, 1.6 times the current three-month average. 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. Investors can use valuation ratios as tools to estimate what kind of deal a particular investment is. While measuring a price/earnings ratio (P/E ratio) is a popular valuation technique, the measure cannot be calculated for companies without earnings, so some investors analyze the price/sales ratio. TSEM has a low P/S ratio of 0.43. 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 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.

Veeco Instruments (Nasdaq:VECO) has fallen 6.4% and is currently trading at $35.34 per share. The company is trading at a volume of 515,470 shares. This is greater than yesterday's volume of 513,565 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 easy-to-calculate debt ratio is helpful to investors looking for a quick take on the leverage for a company. VECO's debt ratio of 16.1% is on the low side. In other words, the company is less sensitive to changes in business or interest rates since less of its cash flow is dedicated to paying off loan expenses. As with all financial ratios, a company's debt ratio should be compared with the industry average or similar companies.

First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR) is trading at $20.28 per share, down 5.4%. At 2.8 million shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.3 times its current daily average. A stock's volume conveys how excited investors are about it. 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. A company's capitalization (not to be confused with its market capitalization) is the term used to describe the makeup of a company's permanent or long-term capital, which consists of both long-term debt and shareholders' equity. The capitalizion ratio of 12.3% is on the low end. Low leverage is a significant balance sheet strength, a sign of a less risky investment. Prudent use of leverage (debt) increases the financial resources available to a company for growth and expansion.

Slipping 4.6%, Multi-Fineline Electronix (Nasdaq:MFLX) is currently trading at $25.04 per share. So far today, 28,685 shares have changed hands. High volume indicates a lot of investor interest while low volume indicates the opposite. Investors can make use of valuation ratios to estimate whether a stock is fairly valued. Perhaps one of the most widely-used stock analysis tools is the price-to-earnings ratio, or P/E. MFLX's P/E ratio of 20.4 is above the industry average of 5.16. 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: Understanding The P/E Ratio

Currently trading at $107.82 per share, Mellanox (Nasdaq:MLNX) has fallen 3.8%. At 450,008 shares, the company's volume so far today is consistent with its average over the last three months. When a stock price moves up or down, watching the volume is a good way of identifying how significant that shift is. 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 price/book value ratio is one of the more common methods of determining whether a stock is fairly valued. MLNX has a P/B ratio of 8.65 which 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. P/B value ratios are particularly useful to value investors, distressed or "vulture" investors, or any other investors purchasing beaten-down securities but are less useful to investors focused on growth stocks, purchasing IPOs, or investing in technology or other "asset-lite" companies. SEE: How Buybacks Warps The Price-To-Book Ratio

Slipping 3.7%, ASM International (Nasdaq:ASMI) is currently trading at $34.30 per share. The company's volume for the day so far is 18,778 shares. Volume is an important indicator because it indicates how significant a price 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. In a nutshell, the price/sales ratio shows how much Wall Street values every dollar of the company's sales. ASMI's P/S ratio of 1.16 is on the high side. This could be a good sign if the share price increases. A limitation of the P/S ratio is that the price component measures only stock market captialization, while sales are a function of the entire capital structure, potentially leading to wide differences between levered and unlevered companies.

Cavium (Nasdaq:CAVM) is down 2.9% to reach $31.47 per share. At 289,675 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.2 times the average daily volume. If a stock price makes a big move up or down, volume lets us know the significance of that move. Looking at a company's valuation ratios is a good way of getting a basic idea as to its value as an investment. The debt ratio is calculated by dividing total liabilities by total assets. CAVM has a low debt ratio of 20.6%. This indicates that the company engages in conservative financing with opportunities to borrow in the future at no significant risk. 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. 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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