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Tickers in this Article: APOL, VCLK, NWS, NWSA, STRA, DV, ABG
The Nasdaq has increased 0.2%, the S&P 500 has risen 0.1% and the Dow is down 0.1% after the morning's trading.

The Services sector (IYC) is trading up 0.5% so far today and here are its biggest movers:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Apollo Group (Nasdaq:APOL).92 billion+8.5%
ValueClick Inc (Nasdaq:VCLK).26 billion-8%
News Corp (Nasdaq:NWS).11 billion+6.5%
News Corp (Nasdaq:NWSA).6 billion+6.4%
Strayer Education Inc (Nasdaq:STRA).11 billion+4.3%
DeVry Inc. (NYSE:DV).81 billion+4.2%
Asbury Automotive Group, Inc. (NYSE:ABG)3.3 million-3.7%
Forex Broker Summary: UFXMarkets

Apollo (Nasdaq:APOL) is up 8.5% to reach a current price of $35.23 per share. So far today, the company's volume is six million shares. This is more trading activity than there was yesterday. Volume indicates the level of interest that investors have in a company at its current price. Margin analysis is a great way to understand the profitability of companies. APOL has a gross profit margin of 59.9%. The operating margin ratio can vary widely across industries, so investors should focus on comparing companies from similar industries or with similar business models. APOL has an operating profit margin of 11%. While ratios such as price/earnings (P/E) or price/book value look at the relative attractiveness of a stock, the net profit margin ratio focuses on company performance rather that stock market valuation. Net margin is 13.4%.

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 P/E ratio has been used for ages by analysts and still remains one of the most relevant pieces of stock valuation. Relative to the industry P/E ratio of 16.04, APOL's 7.4 is low. A low P/E might arise due to substantial inherent risk of the firm and its operations, poor return on equity, or improper valuation of the market. High P/E stocks could be "growth" stocks, while low PE stocks may be "value" stocks. SEE: How To Find P/E And PEG Ratios

Currently trading at $14.35 per share, ValueClick (Nasdaq:VCLK) has fallen 8%. So far today, the company's volume is 1.8 million shares, 1.5 times the average daily volume. In technical analysis, trading volume is used to determine the strength of a market indicator. Margin analysis tells us how effectively management can wring profits from sales and how much room a company has to withstand a downturn, fend off competition and make mistakes. The gross profit margin for VCLK is 58.1%. Investors in growth stocks or short-term traders may be less interested in the operating margin ratio. Operating profit margin for VCLK is 19.9%. Net profit margin is calculated by dividing net income by sales. The company's net profit margin is 17.7%.

Investment valuation ratios provide investors with an estimation, albeit a simplistic one, of the value of a stock. 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 13.7% is on the low end. Investors generally consider a company with low debt and high equity levels is a good quality 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.

After an increase of 6.5%, News (Nasdaq:NWS) has reached a current price of $21.60. The company is currently trading a volume of 5.8 million shares. High volume indicates a lot of investor interest while low volume indicates the opposite. It is important for an investor to estimate the value of any potential or existing investment; valuation ratios make this easier. The dividend yield is calculated by dividing a company's dividends per share by its stock price. NWS has a low dividend yield of 0.8%. This may indicate that the company's stock is overpriced. It is important to remember that while a higher dividend yield is more attractive, all else being equal, a higher dividend yield can also indicate greater perceived risk. SEE: Investment Valuation Ratios: Dividend Yield

News Corp. (Nasdaq:NWSA) has moved up 6.4% and is currently trading at $21.37 per share. With 32 million shares changing hands so far today, the company's volume is 1.9 times its 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. Margin analysis tells us how effectively management can wring profits from sales and how much room a company has to withstand a downturn, fend off competition and make mistakes. NWSA has a gross profit margin of 38.6%. As with other margin ratios, the operating margin is a percentage, which allows for more standardized comparison across time and among different companies of different sizes. Relative to its gross profit margin, NWSA's operating margin of 15.3% is on the low side. Comparing net profit margins for companies with similar business models or in similar industries can yield valuable information as to which business is actually performing better. The company has a net profit margin of 10.4%.

Investment valuation ratios can be very useful in estimating whether a stock price is too high, reasonable or a bargain investment opportunity. 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. NWSA has a high P/S ratio of 1.4. This could be a good sign if the share price increases. 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.

Rising 4.3%, Strayer Education (Nasdaq:STRA) is currently trading at $97.65 per share. The company is trading at a volume of 124,112 shares. Yesterday, volume was only 108,184 shares. 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 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. Calculating the profit margin is a great way to gain insight into aspects of how well a company generates and retains money. Instead of measuring how much managers earn from assets, equity or invested capital, profit-margin ratios measure how far a company stretches its total revenue or total sales. The gross profit margin for STRA is 55.9%. Operating margin can be an important ratio for some investors, particularly those investing in weaker companies or companies in cyclical industries. STRA has an operating profit margin of 27.3%. A high net profit margin indicates a highly profitable company, and a low profit margin indicates the opposite. Net profit margin for the company is 15.6%.

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 measures the leverage of a company, and a company's leverage is a good way to assess risk. STRA has a debt ratio of 75%, 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.

After rising 4.2%, DeVry (NYSE:DV) is currently trading at a share price of $28.86. So far today, the company's volume is 614,581 shares, 0.6 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. Margin ratios highlight companies that are worth further examination. DV has a gross profit margin of 58.9%. The operating profit margin is a rough measure of the operating leverage a company can achieve in the conduct of the operational part of its business. Operating profit margin for DV is 17.7%. Ideally, a company's profit margin should be stable or rising; declining profit margin should be cause for concern or further investigation. The company's net profit margin is 9.8%.

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. A company's price/earnings ratio (P/E ratio) provides a measure of how expensive or cheap a stock is. The P/E ratio for DV is 9.0, below the industry average of 16.04. Companies with low P/E ratios may find it easier to surprise the market to the upside, even if their financial performance is not as strong as that of companies with high P/E ratios. To determine the P/E ratio, an investor divides the market price of the stock by the earnings-per-share (EPS) of the stock. SEE: The P/E Ratio: A Good Market-Timing Indicator

Falling 3.7%, Asbury Automotive Group (NYSE:ABG) is currently at a share price of $21.49. So far today, the company's volume is 200,777 shares. A stock's volume conveys how excited investors are about it. Profit-margin ratios can give investors deeper insight into management efficiency than earnings alone can provide. Gross profit margin, operating profit margin and net margin are commonly used margins. ABG has a low gross profit margin of 17.2%. A low gross profit margin compared to competitors may be a sign that the company is under-pricing its products and/or services. ABG's operating margin of 3.9% and net margin of 1.5% are low relative to its gross margin.

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. ABG's capitalization ratio of 54.4% is relatively high. A company considered too highly leveraged (too much debt) may find its freedom of action restricted by its creditors and/or have its profitability hurt by high interest costs. Prudent use of leverage (debt) increases the financial resources available to a company for growth and expansion.

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. However, these fundamental metrics must be analyzed with historic data, industry information in addition to firm specific financial statements.

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