When it comes to defensive stock selection, no sector performs quite like the consumer staples. These companies are great because their stock is non-cyclical instead of cyclical, and can be relied on to sell their wares through the good times and bad. And very often, it's these same companies that pay investors the best dividends. The following three consumer staple stocks now appear priced to perfection. If it's fundamentals you're after, you won't be disappointed.
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Consumer staples are generally widely followed companies that perform best in the middle-to-end of the economic cycle. They include, but are not limited to, food, beverage, tobacco, alcohol, as well as discount and other household items that are deemed necessities, like toiletries. The consumer staple sector also has the following important characteristics: it has an extremely low correlation to, and experiences less overall volatility than, the overall market.
SEE: Eight Ways To Survive A Market Downturn
Eat Up, Clean Up And Wipe Up
Kellogg's (NYSE:K) is a household name with much to offer investors. With a forward P/E ratio of 13.3, a dividend yield of 3.50%, and a gain of 6.50% in just the first three months of 2012, Kellogg shows great potential. In addition, Kellogg's strong debt rating reflects its leading market share and powerful brand position in the cereal market.
Unilever (NYSE:UL) is another global corporate giant operating in the food, personal and home care product market. The stock carries a mere 13 forward P/E multiple and pays a healthy 4.10% annual dividend. The stock jumped 16.6% over the last 2 years, powered in part by strong earnings in emerging markets and a recently unveiled corporate strategy geared to more fully exploit those markets. Unilever carries a diverse product line that includes everything from Ben & Jerry's ice cream to Dove soap.
SEE: Using Consumer Spending As A Market Indicator
Institutional Buyers Indicate Confidence
Kimberly Clark (NYSE:KMB) is a world supplier of branded health and hygiene products. The company's shares are up 8.37% YTD, sports a friendly 3.70% dividend, and has a forward P/E of 14.2 . Kimberly Clark has a massive institutional following as well. Nearly three quarters of the outstanding shares are owned by professionals.
They may not have the pomp or pizzazz of high-flying tech stocks but steady dividends and predictable growth are on offer from the best of the consumer staples. And after the most recent market mayhem, many investors might even prefer this "boring" corner of the investment world.
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