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Tickers in this Article: CMO, WPC, HTS, BPO, STWD, SUI, SSS
On a bad day for the market, the Nasdaq has declined 0.7%, the S&P 500 has decreased 0.3% and the Dow is down 0.1%.

The Real Estate Operations sector (IYR) has risen 0.1% despite little change in the market overall. Currently, the biggest movers in the sector are:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Capstead (NYSE:CMO)$1.42 billion-4.8%
W. P (NYSE:WPC)$2.15 billion-3.8%
Hatteras (NYSE:HTS)$2.87 billion-3.2%
Brookfield Office Properties (NYSE:BPO)$8.12 billion+2.2%
Starwood Property Trust (NYSE:STWD)$2.81 billion-2.1%
Sun Communities (NYSE:SUI)$1.17 billion+2%
Sovran Self Storage (NYSE:SSS)$1.7 billion+1.6%
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Falling 4.8%, Capstead (NYSE:CMO) is currently at a share price of $13.71. The company's volume for the day so far is 1.3 million shares. This is 1.1 times its current daily 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. 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. 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. CMO's stock is trading for more than its book value with a P/B ratio of 1.05. 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: Investment Valuation Ratios: Price/Book Value Ratio

At $51.28, W. P (NYSE:WPC) has slipped 3.8%. At 26,896 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.2 times its average over the past three months. Volume is an important indicator because it indicates how significant a price shift is. When estimating the value of a particular investment, valuation ratios provide a good basis for assessing the value of an individual stock. Dividend yield measures the income that a stock will generate for an investor. Dividend yield for WPC is 4.9%. It is important to remember that dividends are only one component of a stock's return and capital appreciation (or decline) must also be considered when evaluating a security. SEE: Due Diligence On Dividends

Hatteras (NYSE:HTS) is trading at $28.35 per share, down 3.2%. This morning, the company is trading a volume of 916,348 shares. 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 provide investors with an estimation, albeit a simplistic one, of the value of a stock. 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 HTS is 5.63, 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. 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.

Brookfield Office Properties (NYSE:BPO) has increased to a share price of $16.47, a 2.2% rise. The company's volume is currently 1.6 million shares for the day,. Volume indicates the level of interest that investors have in a company at its current price. 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 ratio is calculated by dividing total liabilities by total assets. BPO's debt ratio is 59.7%. 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.

After a decline of 2.1%, Starwood Property Trust (NYSE:STWD) has hit a share price of $23.62. The company's volume for the morning is 343,204 shares. This is in line with its current daily average. Volume is used to evaluate how meaningful the price movement of a stock is. 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. There are generally two price/earnings ratios calculated: the first, called the trailing Price/Earnings ratio, is calculated using the previous years actual earnings; the second, called forward Price/Earnings ratio, is calculated using the next year's estimated earnings. STWD has a P/E ratio of 15.9, high compared to the industry average of 9.91. This could mean that the market is expecting big things over the next few months or years. 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

Sun Communities (NYSE:SUI) has moved up 2% and is currently trading at $44.81 per share. The company's volume is currently 155,539 shares for the day, consistent with its current three-month average. A stock's volume conveys how excited investors are about it. Understanding investment valuation ratios allows an investor to assess the true value of an individual stock. The debt-equity (D/E) ratio compares the total liabilities for a company to its total shareholder equity. SUI has a high D/E ratio of 22678%. Generally, a high D/E ratio means that the company may have difficulty generating enough cash to pay off its debts. The D/E ratio percentage provides a much more dramatic perspective on a company's leverage position than the debt ratio percentage.

Sovran Self Storage (NYSE:SSS) has risen 1.6% to hit a current price of $58.59 per share. So far today, 153,906 shares have changed hands. 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 capitalization ratio is calculated by dividing long-term debt by the sum of long-term debt and shareholders' equity. SSS has a fairly low capitalization ratio of 0.6%. 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.

The Bottom Line On any given day, a particular stock may see positive or negative change in its share price. It is important to weigh current activity against historical performance when making any investment decisions. 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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