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Tickers in this Article: AMKR, ASMI, MU, MPWR, VSH, VECO, CYMI
On a good day for the market, the Nasdaq has risen 0.6%, the S&P 500 has increased 0.5% and the Dow is trading up 0.6%.

The Semiconductors sector (XLK) is up 0.4%, underperforming the market overall. The biggest movers in the sector are currently:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Amkor Technology (Nasdaq:AMKR)$746.9 million-3%
ASM International (Nasdaq:ASMI)$1.91 billion-2.7%
Micron (Nasdaq:MU)$6.36 billion-2%
Monolithic Power Systems (Nasdaq:MPWR)$769.3 million+2%
Vishay (NYSE:VSH)$1.41 billion-1.3%
Veeco Instruments (Nasdaq:VECO)$1.3 billion+1.3%
Cymer (Nasdaq:CYMI)$1.75 billion+1.3%
Beginner's Guide To

Falling 3%, Amkor Technology (Nasdaq:AMKR) is currently at a share price of $4.65. The company's volume is currently 330,472 shares for the day, 0.3 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. 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. In a nutshell, the price/sales ratio shows how much Wall Street values every dollar of the company's sales. The P/S ratio for AMKR is 0.28, which is relatively low. Low P/S ratios can indicate unrecognized value potential - so long as other criteria like high profit margins, low debt levels and growth prospects are in place. 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.

ASM International (Nasdaq:ASMI) is currently trading at a share price of $33.81, a 2.7% decline. So far today, the company's volume is 11,229 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. 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 debt-equity (D/E) ratio is a leverage ratio. ASMI has a debt-equity ratio of 34%, which is on the low side. This shows that the company's assets are financed primarily through equity. 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.

At $6.13, Micron (Nasdaq:MU) has slipped 2%. So far today, the company's volume is 8.2 million shares, 0.4 times its current three-month average. High volume indicates a lot of investor interest while low volume indicates the opposite. 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 debt ratio gives users a quick measure of the amount of debt that the company has on its balance sheets compared to its assets. MU's debt ratio of 45.4% 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. 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.

Monolithic Power Systems (Nasdaq:MPWR) is up 2% to reach a current price of $22.51 per share. So far today, 401,052 shares of the company's stock have changed hands. 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. Looking at a company's valuation ratios is a good way of getting a basic idea as to its value as an investment. One of the most important estimates of stock market valuation is the price/earnings ratio (P/E ratio). The P/E ratio for MPWR is 42.0, above the industry average of 7.36. This could mean that the market is expecting big things over the next few months or years. 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

Vishay (NYSE:VSH) has fallen 1.3% and is currently trading at $9.73 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 475,162 shares, 0.3 times the average daily volume. Price change alone is not enough to know how a stock is doing. Volume is an important secondary indicator used to confirm trends suggested by price movement. Investment valuation ratios can be very useful in estimating whether a stock price is too high, reasonable or a bargain investment opportunity. The capitalization ratio measures the debt component of the capital structure, or capitalization of a company (i.e., the sum of long-term debt liabilities and shareholder equity) to support operations and growth. VSH has a fairly low capitalization ratio of 22.7%. Low leverage is a significant balance sheet strength, a sign of a less risky 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.

Veeco Instruments (Nasdaq:VECO) has risen 1.3% and is currently trading at $33.63 per share. This morning, the company is trading a volume of 170,655 shares. The trading volume for a stock indicates the level of investor interest. 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 provides a way of evaluating whether a stock is relatively cheap or expensive. VECO's stock is trading for more than its book value with a P/B ratio of 1.65. This may be a sign that the company is overvalued. To put things in perspective, should be made among companies in the same industry rather than across industries. SEE: Using The Price-To-Book Ratio To Evaluate Companies

Cymer (Nasdaq:CYMI) is at $57.21 per share after an increase of 1.3%. At 74,899 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.3 times the average volume over the last three months. In technical analysis, trading volume is used to determine the strength of a market indicator. 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. The P/S ratio for CYMI is 3.14, which is relatively high. 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.

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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