Consumer staples are, by definition, businesses that produce those products we just can't live without. Things like food, beverages, hygiene items and other household necessities, like first aid product and beer. It stands to reason, then, that these stocks should also have tremendous long-term growth records. (To learn more, see A Guide To Investing In Consumer Staples.)

With that in mind we searched the field and focused on three big-name food producers. Specifically, companies that have at least 10 years of history behind them and reasonable current fundamentals. Their product lines will be familiar to most, but perhaps their valuations aren't. Here they are with recent, salient news items to bring you up-to-date.

IN PICTURES: Eight Ways To Survive A Market Downturn

American Pie Starch
ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG), based in Omaha Nebraska, is one of the country's biggest potato and sweet potato suppliers to the restaurant, food service and commercial food production industries. The stock pays shareholders a reasonable 3.7% dividend and trades with a price/earnings ratio of 13.

This summer, ConAgra purchased American Pie, LLC - a private company that makes frozen desserts - and sold off much of its holdings in Gilroy Foods & Flavors.

CAG stock is down 5% in the last 12 months. This is a poor showing compared with the rest of the sector, represented by the PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage ETF (NYSE:PBJ). That ETF is up 17.5% over the same period. Against the broader SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY), a proxy for the popular big-cap index, ConAgra still trails. Shares of SPY have climbed 7% in the last year.

Long term, however, ConAgra is a clear winner. Since it went public 32 years ago the stock is up 4846%, or an annualized 151% per year.

Dow Component
Kraft Foods, Inc. (NYSE:KFT) joined the illustrious Dow Jones Industrial Average in September of 2008, the depths of the last stock market wipeout. The company's shares deliver a fine 3.7% dividend and trade with a P/E of 18.29. Shares in Kraft are up 17.3% in the last year's trade.

Kraft's product line includes the nutritious and savory Oscar Mayer meat line, Oreo cookies and macaroni lovers' Kraft Dinner.

Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. (Nasdaq:CALM) sells eggs - over 800 million dozen per year. CALM stock pays 3.8% annually, trades with a P/E of 10.94 and was up better than 12% on the last year. Since its IPO in 1996, the shares have climbed an average of 51% per year.

The Wrap
Eating your way rich, is one way to describe participation in the fortunes of these companies. Over the long haul, there are few stocks as delectable.

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

Related Articles
  1. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 3 Japanese Bond ETFs

    Learn about the top three exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest in sovereign and corporate bonds issued by developed countries, including Japan.
  2. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    What Exactly Are Arbitrage Mutual Funds?

    Learn about arbitrage funds and how this type of investment generates profits by taking advantage of price differentials between the cash and futures markets.
  3. Savings

    Become Your Own Financial Advisor

    If you have some financial know-how, you don’t have to hire someone to advise you on investments. This tutorial will help you set goals – and get started.
  4. Investing News

    Ferrari’s IPO: Ready to Roll or Poor Timing?

    Will Ferrari's shares move fast off the line only to sputter later?
  5. Investing Basics

    6 Reasons Hedge Funds Underperform

    Understand the hedge fund industry and why it has grown exponentially since 1995. Learn about the top six reasons why the industry underperforms.
  6. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top Three Transportation ETFs

    These three transportation funds attract the majority of sector volume.
  7. Stock Analysis

    5 Cheap Dividend Stocks for a Bear Market

    Here are five stocks that pay safe dividends and should be at least somewhat resilient to a bear market.
  8. Investing Basics

    Tops Tips for Trading ETFs

    A look at two different trading strategies for ETFs - one for investors and the other for active traders.
  9. Investing

    How to Win More by Losing Less in Today’s Markets

    The further you fall, the harder it is to climb back up. It’s a universal truth that is painfully apparent in the investing world.
  10. Fundamental Analysis

    Use Options Data To Predict Stock Market Direction

    Options market trading data can provide important insights about the direction of stocks and the overall market. Here’s how to track it.
  1. Can mutual funds invest in IPOs?

    Mutual funds can invest in initial public offerings (IPOS). However, most mutual funds have bylaws that prevent them from ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. 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 >>
  3. 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 >>
  4. 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 >>
  5. Does index trading increase market vulnerability?

    The rise of index trading may increase the overall vulnerability of the stock market due to increased correlations between ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What does a high turnover ratio signify for an investment fund?

    If an investment fund has a high turnover ratio, it indicates it replaces most or all of its holdings over a one-year period. ... 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!