Entering Monday, the Consumer Staples Select SPDR (NYSEArca: XLP) was down 8% year-to-date while the S&P 500 was higher by 3.8%. It is not often that the normally conservative consumer staples sector lags the broader market by such a wide margin.
XLP devotes more than half its weight to beverage makers and food and staples retailers. Tobacco companies, which have recently seen their shares tumble, account for almost 12% of XLP’s roster. Dow components Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) combine for over 21% of XLP’s weight.
Making matters worse for XLP and rival staples ETFs is the significant margin by which the funds are trailing consumer discretionary ETFs, including the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLY).
“The dismal performance of the ‘staples’ group is sharply contrasted by the breakout in the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLY), which has rallied about 14% since the start of the year,” reports Schaeffer’s Investment Research. “The dichotomy here is easily explained by a quick skim of the top holdings for each fund. While Amazon, the tech/retail hybrid powerhouse, accounts for nearly 24% of XLY’s weight, the top holdings for XLP read like a “who’s who” of the innermost aisles of your neighborhood grocery store.”
Why Consumer Staples Are Struggling
XLP provides “exposure to companies from the food and staples retailing, beverage, food product, tobacco, household product and personal product industries in the U.S.,” according to State Street.
Investors considering the consumer staples sector may want to look at some historical data points.