Looking at sector performance during the first quarter of 2014, basic materials is currently in third place with an overall gain of 2.91 percent, behind only utilities (+ 6.88 percent) and healthcare (+ 7.25 percent), but ahead of the ostensibly booming tech sector (+1.69).
A gain just shy of 3 percent may seem modest, but considering the headwinds that have been whipping up around the sector since the end of 2013, notably the slower pace of the Chinese economy that has been a drag on global commodity prices and booming US production of oil and gas that is quickly leading to growing stockpiles, it is rather impressive. These conditions make for an even riskier environment than usual for the sector’s small-cap space.
And this is precisely why investors and stock-pickers who are well-disposed to the risks of potential high-growth plays will want to familiarize themselves with the materials companies of Equities.com’s 2014 Small-Cap stars index. According to our own home-brewed screening methodology, many of the 30 companies representing the materials sector our index include some notable Q1 performances, and are handily bypassing their competition, as well as their respective overall sector averages.
Senomyx Inc. ($SNMX) – Specialty Chemicals
Market-Cap: $444.30 million
Q1 2014 Return: +110.45 percent (vs.+7.89 percent industry average)
Westmoreland Coal Co. ($WLB) – Nonmetallic Mineral Mining
Market-Cap: $442.23 million
Q1 2014 Return: +63.90 percent (vs. -3.03 percent industry average)
Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc. ($GPRE) – Specialty Chemicals
Market-Cap: $914.08 million
Q1 2014 Return: +55.88 percent (vs.+7.89 percent industry average)
Willbros Group Inc. ($WG) – Oil & Gas Equipment & Services
Market-Cap: $629.36 million
Q1 2014 Return: +38.68 percent (vs. +8.39 percent industry average)
Synergy Resources Corporation ($SYRG) – Oil & Gas Equipment & Services
Market-Cap: $824.31 million
Q1 2014 Return: +17.49 percent (vs. +8.39 percent industry average)
Penford Corporation ($PENX) – Specialty Chemicals
Market-Cap: $179.50 million
Price: $14.36 percent
Q1 2014 Return: +13.52 percent (vs.+7.89 percent industry average)