How Staples ETFs are Stacking Up

Plenty of market observers have speculated that oil’s decline would be a boon for consumer sectors, including consumer staples.

To some extent, that has been as the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLP), the largest staples ETF gained 15.7% last year, outperforming the S&P 500 in the process. XLP is again outpacing the benchmark U.S. index this year with a gain of 1.1% while the S&P 500 is off 0.4%. Still, not everyone is impressed by the richly valued staples sector.

AltaVista Research has an underweight rating on XLP, the only one of the nine sector SPDRs the research firm has tagged with that rating.

“A rating of UNDERWEIGHT is assigned to funds with ALTAR Scores above 3.0% but below 6.0%. Typically, funds in this category consist of stocks trading at relatively expensive valuations and/or having below-average fundamentals,” said AltaVista in a new research note.

Of concern is that some of XLP’s marquee holdings are not contributing to the ETF’s modest upside this year. The ETF is home to three Dow components – Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO). However, Wal-Mart is the only that has traded higher this year. [Investors Flock to Staples ETFs]