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Tickers in this Article: HF, VAC, Z, EGP, FOR, JOE, CHSP
The market is doing well so far today. The Nasdaq is trading up 0.3%; the S&P 500 has moved up 0.1%; and the Dow has increased 0.2%.

Underperforming the market overall, the Real Estate Operations sector (IYR) is up 0.3%, and these are its current biggest movers:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
HFF (NYSE:HF)$543.3 million+3.9%
Marriott Vacations (NYSE:VAC)$1.16 billion+2%
Zillow (Nasdaq:Z)$1.2 billion+2%
Eastgroup Properties (NYSE:EGP)$1.6 billion+1.6%
Forestar Group (NYSE:FOR)$584 million-1.6%
St. Joe (NYSE:JOE)$1.97 billion-1.3%
Chesapeake (NYSE:CHSP)$610.2 million-1.2%
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HFF (NYSE:HF) is currently trading at $15.29 per share, a 3.9% increase. The company is trading at a volume of 344,914 shares. This is greater than yesterday's volume of 194,965 shares. Volume is used to evaluate how meaningful the price movement of a stock is. Investment valuation ratios can be very useful in estimating whether a stock price is too high, reasonable or a bargain investment opportunity. In a nutshell, the price/sales ratio shows how much Wall Street values every dollar of the company's sales. HF has a high P/S ratio of 2.02. This could be a good sign if the share price increases. All things being equal, a low P/S ratio is good news for investors, while a very high one can be a warning sign.

Marriott Vacations (NYSE:VAC) has moved up 2% and is currently trading at $34.31 per share. With 109,450 shares changing hands so far today, the company's volume is in keeping with its current three-month average. Volume indicates the level of interest that investors have in a company at its current price. 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 easy-to-calculate debt ratio is helpful to investors looking for a quick take on the leverage for a company. VAC's debt ratio is 56.4%. 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 rising 2%, Zillow (Nasdaq:Z) is currently trading at a share price of $41.60. So far today, the company's volume is 316,759 shares. In technical analysis, trading volume is used to determine the strength of a market indicator. Understanding investment valuation ratios allows an investor to assess the true value of an individual stock. A company's price/earnings ratio (P/E ratio) provides a measure of how expensive or cheap a stock is. Z has a P/E ratio of 582.9, high compared to the industry average of 7.07. 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

Eastgroup Properties (NYSE:EGP) is at $55.64 per share after an increase of 1.6%. So far today, the company's volume is 77,078 shares, 0.4 times its current daily average. Volume is used to evaluate how meaningful the price movement of a stock is. Valuation ratios allow the investor to make a quick determination as to a company's investment value. The debt-equity (D/E) ratio is a measurement of how much suppliers, lenders, creditors and obligors have committed to the company versus what the shareholders have committed. EGP's D/E ratio of 173% is on the high side. Generally, a high D/E ratio means that the company may have difficulty generating enough cash to pay off its debts. 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.

Currently trading at $16.57 per share, Forestar Group (NYSE:FOR) has fallen 1.6%. The company's volume is currently 33,915 shares. This is on pace to fall short of yesterday's volume of 172,044 shares. As a stock moves up or down, it is important to pay attention to the trading volume. This indicates the level of interest: the higher the volume, the more the interest. When estimating the value of a particular investment, valuation ratios provide a good basis for assessing the value of an individual stock. 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. FOR has a low capitalization ratio of 28.1%. Low leverage is a significant balance sheet strength, a sign of a less risky investment. This ratio is considered to be one of the more meaningful of the "debt" ratios - it delivers the key insight into the use of leverage by a company.

St. Joe (NYSE:JOE) is currently trading at a share price of $21.05, a 1.3% decline. The company's volume is currently 167,726 shares for the day, 0.4 times its average over the past three months. Volume is an important indicator because it indicates how significant a price 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. The price/book value ratio is one of the more common methods of determining whether a stock is fairly valued. JOE has a P/B ratio of 3.57 which shows that its share price is higher than its book value. This implies that investors expect management to create more value from a given set of assets and/or that the market value of the firm's assets is significantly higher than their accounting value. P/B has its shortcomings but is still widely used as a valuation metric, more relevant for use by investors looking at capital-intensive or finance-related businesses, such as banks; book value does not carry much meaning for service-based firms with few tangible assets. SEE: How Buybacks Warps The Price-To-Book Ratio

Slipping 1.2%, Chesapeake (NYSE:CHSP) is currently trading at $18.77 per share. This morning, the company is trading a volume of 905,356 shares. The trading volume for a stock indicates the level of investor interest. 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 dividend yield is calculated by dividing a company's dividends per share by its stock price. Dividend yield for CHSP is 4.6%. 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

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. 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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