A Tepid View on the Consumer Staples ETF Sector

The Consumer Staples Select SPDR (NYSEArca: XLP) has started to perk up after a lengthy slumber that saw the once red hot sector falter on valuation and interest rate concerns. Over the past week, XLP is higher by 3.2%, bringing its year-to-date gain to 5.3%.

Amid fears of rising interest rates and concerns that the sector is overvalued even relative to its lofty historical norms, the consumer staples sector has recently encountered some headwinds.

Defensive sectors often trade at premium valuations relative to the broader market and that is certainly the case at the moment with the consumer staples and utilities groups.

Rivals to XLP, which also have substantial exposure to food stocks, include the Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (NYSEArca: VDC) and the Fidelity MSCI Consumer Staples Index ETF (NYSEArca: FSTA).

Still, some analysts are not too enthusiastic on staples stocks. On Tuesday, Deutsche Bank lowered its ratings on a slew of big-name staples stocks, including some marquee XLP holdings citing “broad macro factors (F/X,USD, stronger economy = flight out of safety) that could apply to a host of multinational consumer staples sellers.”

Deutsche downgraded to hold from Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), two of XLP’s largest holdings. The bank also lowered its price targets on both names.