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Tickers in this Article: MSCI, HNT, GPN, PVD, PNC, WLP, CG
Currently, the Nasdaq has climbed 0.4%, the S&P 500 is trading up 0.1% and the Dow is down 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.

These are the biggest movers in the Financial sector (XLF) (+0.3%):
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Msci (NYSE:MSCI)$4.36 billion-27.2%
Health Net (NYSE:HNT)$1.89 billion+4.1%
Global Payments (NYSE:GPN)$3.3 billion+3%
A.F.P Provida SA (NYSE:PVD)$2.04 billion+2.6%
PNC Financial (NYSE:PNC)$33.23 billion+2.1%
WellPoint (NYSE:WLP)$18.85 billion+2%
Carlyle (Nasdaq:CG)$7.95 billion-1.9%
Forex Broker Summary: UFXMarkets

Msci (NYSE:MSCI) is currently trading at $26.09 per share, after a steep drop of 27.2%. The company's volume is currently 5.7 million shares for the day, 8.7 times the average daily volume. If a stock price moves on high volume, this means that the change is a significant one. Understanding investment valuation ratios allows an investor to assess the true value of an individual stock. Price/earnings ratios (P/E ratios) provide a measure of the relative value of a stock. MSCI has a P/E ratio of 25.4. A high P/E ratio indicates a stock that is expensive, while a low P/E ratio indicates a stock that is cheap. SEE: The P/E Ratio: A Good Market-Timing Indicator

Health Net (NYSE:HNT) has increased to a share price of $24.09, a 4.1% rise. The company's volume for the day so far is 541,711 shares. Volume is used to evaluate how meaningful the price movement of a stock is. 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. The debt-equity (D/E) ratio compares the total liabilities for a company to its total shareholder equity. HNT's debt-equity ratio of 32% is on the low end. Companies with low D/E ratios are more attractive to investors because they are better able to protect their business interests in times of decline. The D/E ratio is not a pure measurement of a company's debt because it includes operational liabilities in total liabilities.

Rising 3%, Global Payments (NYSE:GPN) is currently trading at $43.06 per share. At 620,283 shares, the company's volume so far today is consistent with its current three-month average. When a stock price moves up or down, watching the volume is a good way of identifying how significant that shift is. 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. 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. GPN's capitalization ratio is 19.9%, which is relatively low. 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.

A.F.P Provida SA (NYSE:PVD) is at $94.88 per share after an increase of 2.6%. So far today, 3,781 shares of the company's stock have changed hands. 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. Investors can use valuation ratios as tools to estimate what kind of deal a particular investment is. The price/book value ratio provides a way of evaluating whether a stock is relatively cheap or expensive. The P/B ratio for PVD is 3.6, indicating that the stock is trading for more 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

PNC Financial (NYSE:PNC) has moved up 2.1% and is currently trading at $64.07 per share. At 1.8 million shares, the company's volume so far today is in keeping with its current daily average. Volume indicates the level of interest that investors have in a company at its current price. Valuation ratios allow the investor to make a quick determination as to a company's investment value. The dividend yield is calculated by dividing a company's dividends per share by its stock price. PNC's dividend yield is 2.5%. A higher dividend yield may indicate a risk of a fall in the price of the security, or a cut in the level of dividend payments, either of which would have the effect of dropping future returns. SEE: Dividend Yield For The Downturn

WellPoint (NYSE:WLP) is up 2% to reach a current price of $59.15 per share. This morning, the company is trading a volume of 1.1 million shares. If a stock price moves on high volume, this means that the change is a significant one. It is important for an investor to estimate the value of any potential or existing investment; valuation ratios make this easier. In a nutshell, the price/sales ratio shows how much Wall Street values every dollar of the company's sales. WLP has a low P/S ratio of 0.34. Low P/S ratios are more attractive than high ratios because this indicates that an investor is paying less for each dollar of sales. All things being equal, a low P/S ratio is good news for investors, while a very high one can be a warning sign.

Carlyle (Nasdaq:CG) has fallen 1.9% and is currently trading at $25.63 per share. The company's volume is currently 17,126 shares for the day, 0.2 times the average volume over the last three months. Volume is also used as a secondary indicator to help confirm what the price movement is suggesting. A wide array of ratios can be used by investors to estimate the attractiveness of a potential or existing investment and get an idea of its valuation. 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. CG's P/B ratio of 5.93 shows that its share price is higher than its book value. It is important to take the company's debt into account when using the P/B ratio as debt can boost a company's liabilities to the point where they wipe out much of the book value of its hard assets, creating artificially high P/B values. All else being equal, a stock with a low P/B value ratio is more attractive than a stock with a high ratio. SEE: How Buybacks Warps The Price-To-Book Ratio

The Bottom Line No matter the economic climate, Wall Street will always have stocks that make major moves each week. It is important to weigh current activity against historical performance when making any investment decisions. Keep in mind that all these ratios should be compared against historical numbers and industry information in order to get a more complete picture.

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