Consumer staples stocks and the related exchange traded funds have been anything but safe this year. For example, the Consumer Staples Select SPDR (NYSEArca: XLP), the largest ETF tracking the consumer staples sector, is down more than 11% year-to-date.

Recently, some marquee names in XLP and other cap-weighted staples ETFs have languished amid disappointing earnings reports and analyst downgrades.

“Last week was a tough one for consumer-staples stocks, with the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLP) losing nearly 3% on Thursday alone,” reports Teresa Rivas for Barron’s. “The sector was hit from all sides, with disappointing tobacco volumes from Philip Morris International (PM), lackluster organic-sales growth guidance  from Procter & Gamble (PG), as well as plenty of downgrades, for companies including Kraft Heinz (KHC), Smucker (SJM), and Campbell Soup (CPB).”

Contracting Multiples for Staples

Currently, staples stocks sport valuations on par with the S&P 500, but some analysts believe the sector’s multiples could contract by a significant margin.

Credit Suisse’s Robert Moskow writes, “that in recent history, staples’ premium valuations were an anomaly, driven by the Great Recession and a period of extremely low global interest rates that made their dividend yields more attractive,” according to Barron’s. “However, take a step back, to 1999-2000 and 2001-2003, and staples ‘traded at a pretty hefty discount,’ thanks to rising interest rates and the rotation into tech in the first period and major reinvestments and consolidations in the second.”

Related: Talking ETF Turnover

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