One of the best performing stock market sectors this year is the consumer discretionaries. And it's no surprise, really, that at this point in the recovery - after the financial sector has stabilized, housing has strengthened, and the jobs and sentiment outlook is becoming more positive - that consumers would begin considering non-essential purchases. It's evident in everything from auto sale numbers to Caribbean cruises, from diamond sales to Vegas vacancy rates: wallets are opening again for the first time since the downturn began in 2007.

It's also no surprise, therefore, that of the seven stocks on the Russell 3000 universe of stocks that are up over 100% since the New Year, four of them hail from the consumer discretionary sector. Here are those four companies with relevant fundamental measures included.

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Smokin' Returns
The best performing stock in the Russell 3000 this year is Star Scientific Inc. (Nasdaq:CIGX), a manufacturer of smoking cessation products and other items that aid in the reduction of toxins in tobacco-related products. Star Scientific's stock is up over 300% year-to-date, as compared to the S&P 500's 5% rise, as measured by the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY).

CIGX shares have no dividend and no price/earnings ratio at present, as the company is currently reporting negative earnings.

Ruth's Hospitality Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:RUTH) shares are up better than 150% since the year began and trade with a P/E that appears a stretch at almost 50. As compared to the broader consumer discretionary sector, RUTH has significantly outperformed. The sector, as represented by the Consumer Discretionary SPDR ETF (NYSE:XLY), has turned in an impressive showing, offering investors a solid 11%. But that's a far cry from what investors in RUTH would have taken in over the same time frame.

Ruth's Hospitality is in the upscale restaurant business with operations that span the globe. The shares pay no dividend.

Fashionable Financial Returns
Quiksilver, Inc. (NYSE:ZQK) is in the sports apparel business, with marketing channels that distribute to more than 90 countries worldwide. Since the year began, the company's stock has risen by more than 130%. The shares offer no dividend and trade without a P/E due to negative current earnings.

The Wrap
Consumer discretionary stocks dominate the leader board of Russell 3000 stocks for the year. Will the sector lead the field in 2010 like the financials did in 2009? The stocks we've examined here certainly suggest it. (To learn more, see Using Consumer Spending As A Market Indicator.)

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Tickers in this Article: CIGX, SPY, RUTH, XLY, ZQK

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