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Tickers in this Article: ENI, EOC, SBS, NGG, NEE, BIP, SRE
The morning has been good for the market. The Nasdaq has risen 1.1%; the S&P 500 has moved up 1.3%; and the Dow is trading up 1.4%. The utilities sector is a category of stocks for utilities such as gas and power. It contains companies such as electric, gas and water firms and integrated providers. Because utilities require significant infrastructure, these firms often carry large amounts of debt. With a high debt load, utilities companies become sensitive to changes in the interest rate. As interest rates rise or drop, the debt payments will increase or decrease. The utilities sector performs best when interest rates are falling or remain low.

Outperforming the market overall, the Utilities sector (XLU) is up 1.3% and its biggest movers so far today are:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Enersis S.A. (ADR) (NYSE:ENI)$12.43 billion-12%
Empresa Nacional de Electricidad (ADR) (NYSE:EOC)$14.19 billion-4%
Companhia de Saneamento Basico (ADR) (NYSE:SBS)$8.97 billion+3.4%
National Grid plc (ADR) (NYSE:NGG)$36.6 billion+2.9%
NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE)$28.7 billion+2.4%
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P. (NYSE:BIP)$4.37 billion+2.3%
Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE)$16.4 billion+1.9%
Software Summary: Finviz.com Stock Screener

Enersis S.A (NYSE:ENI) is currently trading at $16.75 per share, after a steep drop of 12%. The company's volume is currently 611,010 shares for the day, 1.7 times the average volume over the last three months. A stock's volume conveys how excited investors are about it. 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 price by its revenues. ENI has a low P/S ratio of 0.99. Low P/S ratios are more attractive than high ratios because this indicates that an investor is paying less for each dollar of sales. 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.

After a decline of 4%, Empresa Nacional de Electricidad (NYSE:EOC) has hit a share price of $49.84. So far today, the company's volume is 157,148 shares. If a stock price moves on high volume, this means that the change is a significant one. Investors can make use of valuation ratios to estimate whether a stock is fairly valued. The easy-to-calculate debt ratio is helpful to investors looking for a quick take on the leverage for a company. EOC's debt ratio is 59.6%. 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.

Increasing 3.4%, Companhia de Saneamento Basico (NYSE:SBS) is trading at $81.42 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 160,979 shares, 0.9 times the average daily volume. 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. Investment valuation ratios can be very useful in estimating whether a stock price is too high, reasonable or a bargain investment opportunity. To a large degree, the debt-equity (D/E) ratio provides another vantage point on a company's leverage position, in this case, comparing total liabilities to shareholders' equity, as opposed to total assets in the debt ratio. SBS' D/E ratio is 75%. The D/E ratio percentage provides a much more dramatic perspective on a company's leverage position than the debt ratio percentage.

After an increase of 2.9%, National Grid plc (NYSE:NGG) has reached a current price of $51.61. The company is trading at a volume of 269,813 shares. This is on pace to reach yesterday's trading volume of 637,140 shares. Volume indicates the level of interest that investors have in a company at its current price. 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. The capitalization ratio is calculated by dividing long-term debt by the sum of long-term debt and shareholders' equity. NGG has a capitalization ratio of 69%, which is on the high end. If the company is a company is in a highly competitive business and hobbled by high debt, it will find its competitors taking advantage of its problems to grab more market share. 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 rising 2.4%, NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) is currently trading at a share price of $70.50. The company's volume for the day so far is 576,566 shares, in keeping with the average volume over the past three months. 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 a 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. Understanding investment valuation ratios allows an investor to assess the true value of an individual stock. The price/book value ratio is one of the more common methods of determining whether a stock is fairly valued. NEE's stock is trading for more than its book value with a P/B ratio of 1.93. This may be a sign that the company is overvalued. P/B value ratios are particularly useful to value investors, distressed or "vulture" investors, or any other investors purchasing beaten-down securities but are less useful to investors focused on growth stocks, purchasing IPOs, or investing in technology or other "asset-lite" companies. SEE: Using The Price-To-Book Ratio To Evaluate Companies

Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (NYSE:BIP) is at $33.80 per share after an increase of 2.3%. So far today, 97,024 shares have changed hands. If a stock price makes a big move up or down, volume lets us know the significance of that move. 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. Dividend yield is a way to measure how much cash flow you are getting for each dollar invested in an equity position - in other words, how much "bang for your buck" you are getting from dividends. BIP's dividend yield is 4.5%. To calculate the dividend yield, divide the level of dividends by the stock price; the higher the yield, the more attractive the security. SEE: Dividend Yield For The Downturn

Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE) has risen 1.9% to hit a current price of $69.33 per share. At 308,532 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.3 times its current daily average. Volume is also used as a secondary indicator to help confirm what the price movement is suggesting. When estimating the value of a particular investment, valuation ratios provide a good basis for assessing the value of an individual 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. SRE has a high P/S ratio of 1.45. This could be a good sign if the share price increases. It is important to keep in mind when looking at the P/S ratio that just because a company is generating revenues, this does not mean that the company is profitable, and in the long run, profits drive stock prices.

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

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