After a sluggish start to the year, consumer staples stocks and exchange traded funds have come roaring back amid the flight to value sectors over growth and momentum destinations.
Over the past 90 days, the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLP), the largest consumer staples ETF by assets, is the fourth-best of the nine sector SPDRs with gain of about 4%. Since the start of February XLP is higher by 10% after tumbling 4% in January. [Staples Struggle to Start 2014]
“As the calendar approaches the traditionally vulnerable seasonal period of the mid-term election year, we are inclined to upgrade this classic defensive sector as a result of an attractive dividend yield, as well as trailing absolute and relative valuations that are in line with long-term averages,” said S&P Capital IQ in a new research note.
With the traditionally weak May through October time frame right around corner, investors should consider revisiting the staples sector because the group is the second-best sector during this time.
“Since 1990, the Consumer Staples sector has been the second best performing sector in the S&P 500 Index during the seasonally weak May-October periods. Consumer Staples stocks outperformed the broader index 70% of the time and have increased on average 4.6%, much higher than the 1.3% average for the S&P 500 Index. Further during mid-term election years, defensive sectors such as Consumer Staples have held up much better during the seasonally weak summer,” according to the research firm.
S&P Capital IQ has an overweight rating on XLP as well as the Fidelity MSCI Consumer Staples Index ETF (NYSEArca: FSTA). FSTA is part of the 10-ETF suite launched by Fidelity in October 2013 and is the least expensive staples ETF with an annual expense ratio of 0.12%. [Fidelity ETFs Look Solid]
XLP’s top-five holdings are Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), Phillip Morris (NYSE: PM), Wal-Mart and CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS). That quintet represents 44.5% of XLP’s weight. Four of those stocks are top-five holdings in FSTA with PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) replacing CVS in that ETF’s top-five roster. FSTA five largest holdings combine for about 43% of the fund’s weight.