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Tickers in this Article: IOC, MTDR, ALJ, TGA, CWEI, LPI, GLP
After the morning's trading, the Nasdaq has risen 0.3%, the S&P 500 has increased 0.1% and the Dow is trading down 0.1%.

The biggest movers in the Oil and Gas Operations sector (DIG) (+0.3%) are:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
InterOil Corporation (NYSE:IOC)$4.03 billion-5.9%
Matador (NYSE:MTDR)$537.2 million+4.5%
Alon USA Energy (NYSE:ALJ)$687.6 million+4.1%
TransGlobe Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:TGA)$727.8 million+3.9%
Clayton Williams Energy (Nasdaq:CWEI)$616.2 million-2.9%
Laredo Petroleum Holdings (NYSE:LPI)$2.92 billion-2.6%
Global (NYSE:GLP)$663.5 million+2%
Beginner's Guide To

InterOil Corporation (NYSE:IOC) is currently trading at a share price of $78.39, a 5.9% decline. This morning, 469,021 shares have been traded, with trading activity in keeping with yesterday's. 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. Valuation ratios allow the investor to make a quick determination as to a company's investment value. 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. IOC's P/S ratio of 2.79 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.

Matador (NYSE:MTDR) has increased to a share price of $10.12, a 4.5% rise. This morning, the company's volume is 426,925 shares. This is 1.7 times its average daily volume. The trading volume for a stock indicates the level of investor interest. 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. 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. MTDR's stock is trading for more than its book value with a P/B ratio of 1.38. 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: How Buybacks Warps The Price-To-Book Ratio

After rising 4.1%, Alon USA Energy (NYSE:ALJ) is currently trading at a share price of $12.66. At 141,922 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.3 times its current three-month average. High volume indicates a lot of investor interest while low volume indicates the opposite. Investment valuation ratios can be very useful in estimating whether a stock price is too high, reasonable or a bargain investment opportunity. The debt-equity (D/E) ratio compares the total liabilities for a company to its total shareholder equity. ALJ has a D/E ratio of 246%, which is relatively high. This shows that the company's assets are financed primarily through debt. The D/E ratio percentage provides a much more dramatic perspective on a company's leverage position than the debt ratio percentage.

TransGlobe Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:TGA) is up 3.9% to reach a current price of $10.32 per share. So far today, 46,156 shares have changed hands. If a stock price moves on high volume, this means that the change is a significant one. 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 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. The capitalizion ratio of 25.7% is on the low end. A very low capitalization ratio might be a sign that the company is stagnating and reducing the potential earnings for shareholders. Prudent use of leverage (debt) increases the financial resources available to a company for growth and expansion.

Currently trading at $49.18 per share, Clayton Williams Energy (Nasdaq:CWEI) has fallen 2.9%. So far today, the company's volume is 12,999 shares, lighter than yesterday's volume of 74,862 shares. 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. 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. The P/E ratio for CWEI is 5.4, below the industry average of 17.42. A low P/E ratio may indicate that the market expects relatively slower earnings growth. A high or low P/E ratio is not good or bad in and of itself, but a company trading with a high P/E ratio must continue to post strong financial performance or its stock price is likely to fall. SEE: Understanding The P/E Ratio

Slipping 2.6%, Laredo Petroleum Holdings (NYSE:LPI) is currently trading at $22.22 per share. The company's volume for the morning is 34,292 shares. This is 0.2 times the current daily average. Volume is an important indicator because it indicates how significant a price shift is. Understanding investment valuation ratios allows an investor to assess the true value of an individual stock. 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. LPI has a debt ratio of 61.1%, which is on the high side. As such, the company is highly leveraged and not highly liquid. As with all financial ratios, a company's debt ratio should be compared with the industry average or similar companies.

Rising 2%, Global (NYSE:GLP) is currently trading at $24.67 per share. The company's volume for the day so far is 22,380 shares, consistent with its average over the last three months. In technical analysis, trading volume is used to determine the strength of a market indicator. 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 dividend yield is calculated by dividing a company's dividends per share by its stock price. GLP has a high dividend yield of 8.7%. This is good news for income investors as the payout could be high. 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

The Bottom Line No matter the economic climate, Wall Street will always have stocks that make major moves each week. 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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