Ominous Signs for Consumer Staples ETFs

The normally boring, defensive consumer staples sector has been anything but this year. The Consumer Staples Select SPDR (NYSEArca: XLP), the largest ETF tracking the consumer staples sector, is lower by nearly 12% year-to-date, underscoring the point that staples ETFs are among the worst-performing sector funds.

Unfortunately, ominous signs are mounting for the usually safe consumer staples sector. Investors are not waiting around to see how things play. XLP has seen $1.26 billion in year-to-date outflows.

“Last week, the consumer staples sector posted a 4 percent decline, its third in two months. That’s a phenomenon that hasn’t been seen in nearly a decade,” reports CNBC.

Why Consumer Staples Are Lagging

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.

The ETF 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.

Related: Consumer Staples ETFs Try to Shake Laggard Ways