Has anybody else grown weary of the back-and-forth action (yet no net progress) from the market? It's not even an interesting challenge anymore - it has just become a nuisance.

IN PICTURES: 8 Tips For Starting Your Own Business

I may have identified a solution we all may want to embrace, as the see-saw action from the major stock indexes isn't apt to end anytime soon. It may not be the solution you want, but it's likely to be the solution you need.

Method To The Madness
When asked how they could get more out of the market, I'd venture to say that 10 out of 10 investors would say picking different (i.e. better moving) stocks is the key. That's certainly not a bad place to start; but honestly, I don't think that's the real secret to better investing. Consistency of progress - or lack thereof - is what really makes or breaks investors.

That's not to say volatile stocks can't outperform the market - they can. Volatile stocks are tough to own, though, as they have a way of jerking investors around psychologically. Buying at highs and selling at lows are just two of the pitfalls that accompany a wild equity holding. And, it takes a 100% gain to recoup a 50% dip in your portfolio. So....

Low-Beta Stocks
Rather than even attend that dance, I've found I'm getting better bottom line, long-term results from my most consistent, low-beta stocks. And let me clarify - I'm beating the overall market (relatively stress-free) with these low-beta picks, as they simply keep walking higher, even if with baby steps.

While I can't (and don't want to) share my particular holdings as suggestions, I can tell you some of the most reliable industries I've dug up over the last few months, and point out some of the most reliably progressive stocks within them.

Picks Of The Litter
Just for comparison, the S&P 500 Index is up 66.1% since the March 2009 low, and it's up 22.6% for the last 12 months. The industries below have generally outperformed the market during its time of turbulence and will provide protection in the event that another dip in stock prices occurs.

Food Distributors
The average stock in the food distributor group is up 36.3% for the last 12 months, and as part of the consumer staples business, the demand for its products remains in any type of economic environment. The no-brainer food play, as I see it, is Sysco Corp. (NYSE: SYY). It's got P/E ratios consistently in the mid-teens, a beta of only 0.70, and it manages to shrug off any problems the market throws at us.

Don't get too excited about the fact that the typical broadcasting stock is up approximately 100% over the last year. That growth rate, as a percentage, is strong because these stocks started in the gutter. It would have been hard not to look good. Still, the pace is intact. The smart play here seems to be Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA), with a beta of 0.91, four straight EPS "beats" and a stock that's still trucking.

Seems like ever since Warren Buffett bought Burlington Northern (NYSE: BNI) last year, the railroad industry has fallen off the radar. However, the industry has produced reasonable returns. The reliability award for railroad stock progress actually goes to Canadian National Railway (NYSE: CNI). It boasts the lowest beta among the majors (1.14) and has comparable fundamentals.

Don't laugh! The footwear group is up 52.1% for the last 12 months - much stronger than the broad market. The pick of the litter here is Crox (Nasdaq: CROX), which is actually a high-beta stock (2.28), but all that volatility has been bullish as this stock has started to come back from the dead. CROX is well off its early 2009 lows around $1.20, but still well under its 2007 peak of just under $70. Translation - there's still tons of recovery room here. (Beta says something about price risk, but how much does it say about fundamental risk factors? To learn more, see Beta: Know The Risk.)

Boring Can Be Beautiful
Anyway, you get the idea. Boring can be beautiful, and consistency can make a huge difference to your bottom line.

Use the Investopedia Stock Simulator to trade the stocks mentioned in this stock analysis, risk free!

Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    3 Resilient Oil Stocks for a Down Market

    Stuck on oil? Take a look at these six stocks—three that present risk vs. three that offer some resiliency.
  2. Economics

    Keep an Eye on These Emerging Economies

    Emerging markets have been hammered lately, but these three countries (and their large and young populations) are worth monitoring.
  3. Stock Analysis

    Is Pepsi (PEP) Still a Safe Bet?

    PepsiCo has long been known as one of the most resilient stocks throughout the broader market. Is this still the case today?
  4. Investing

    The ABCs of Bond ETF Distributions

    How do bond exchange traded fund (ETF) distributions work? It’s a question I get a lot. First, let’s explain what we mean by distributions.
  5. Stock Analysis

    3 Stocks that Are Top Bets for Retirement

    These three stocks are resilient, fundamentally sound and also pay generous dividends.
  6. Investing News

    Are Stocks Cheap Now? Nope. And Here's Why

    Are stocks cheap right now? Be wary of those who are telling you what you want to hear. Here's why.
  7. Investing News

    4 Value Stocks Worth Your Immediate Attention

    Here are four stocks that offer good value and will likely outperform the majority of stocks throughout the broader market over the next several years.
  8. Investing News

    These 3 High-Quality Stocks Are Dividend Royalty

    Here are three resilient, dividend-paying companies that may mitigate some worry in an uncertain investing environment.
  9. Stock Analysis

    An Auto Stock Alternative to Ford and GM

    If you're not sure where Ford and General Motors are going, you might want to look at this auto investment option instead.
  10. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    The 4 Best Buy-and-Hold ETFs

    Explore detailed analyses of the top buy-and-hold exchange traded funds, and learn about their characteristics, statistics and suitability.
  1. How do dividends affect retained earnings?

    When a company issues a cash dividend to its shareholders, the retained earnings listed on the balance sheet are reduced ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital?

    The difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital is investors have already paid in full for paid-up ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Why would a corporation issue convertible bonds?

    A convertible bond represents a hybrid security that has bond and equity features; this type of bond allows the conversion ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does additional paid in capital affect retained earnings?

    Both additional paid-in capital and retained earnings are entries under the shareholders' equity section of a company's balance ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What types of capital are not considered share capital?

    The money a business uses to fund operations or growth is called capital, and there are a number of capital sources available. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between issued share capital and subscribed share capital?

    The difference between subscribed share capital and issued share capital is the former relates to the amount of stock for ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!