There's nothing wrong with flying first class, but coach fares have looked more appealing lately. The ongoing old battle between utility and extravagance becomes clearer during tough economic times. Consumers have cut back on big ticket items like new cars and high priced vacations outside the U.S. As the shift toward utility purchasing grows, investors should consider how a basket of consumer goods could balance their portfolios.

Investopedia Broker Guides: Enhance your trading with the tools from today's top online brokers.

Everyday Goods
The Consumer Staples SPDR ETF (ARCA:XLP) covers a wide range of companies that produce everyday goods like medicines, colas, household items and personal products. Most investors probably have used at least one product or service offered by one of XLP's consumer goods holdings. Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Phillip Morris International (NYSE:PM) dominate more than one-third of the fund's portfolio. Therefore, it's time to take a look at a few of the companies that make up the XLP.

SEE: A Guide To Investing In Consumer Staples

Goods For All Occasions
Whether it's the stuffy head fever reliever, NyQuil, the specially formulated baby clothing detergent, Dreft, or the snack attack satisfier, Pringles, Procter & Gamble is there to meet many consumer needs. However, the company is down 6% over the past twelve months, while the SPDR S&P 500 Index ETF (AMEX:SPY) is down aprox 1% over the same period.

SEE: Five Ways To Find A Winning ETF

Discount Leader
One-stop shop Wal-Mart is visited weekly by more than 100 million customers worldwide. Well-placed stores, fully-stocked shelves and low prices form a triple threat against competitors who wish to beat out the retail giant in the competition for consumers, who lately have focused spending more on food and household necessities, than extravagances.

Not Altria Anymore
Philip Morris International split away from its parent company Altria (NYSE:MO) in March of 2008. Philip Morris targets its tobacco products in the European Union, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Philip Morris International stock has outperformed the S&P500 with a twelve month performance of 14.50%.

SEE: A Prelude To Sinful Investing

Final Thoughts
It's safe to say that the business of consumer staples and investing in them is boring to some people. The demand for these products does not swing up and down and they don't exhibit the flashy characteristics of their close relative, the consumer cyclical.

They do, however, offer investors an opportunity to diversify into a sector that is easy to understand, has a relatively low beta and a low correlation to the overall market. So the next time you go to buy a razor when the stock market is in a tailspin, take a look at the company that makes that razor: it might be a good time to buy its stock.

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

Related Articles
  1. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Why ETFs Are a Smart Investment Choice for Millennials

    Exchange-traded funds offer an investment alternative to cost-conscious millennials who want to diversify their portfolios with less risk.
  2. Stock Analysis

    Will J.C. Penney Come Back in 2016? (JCP)

    J.C. Penney is without a doubt turning itself around, but that doesn't guarantee the stock will respond immediately.
  3. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Should Investors Take a BITE Out of This New ETF?

    ETF BITE offers a full menu of restaurants. Is now the right time to invest?
  4. Financial Advisors

    5 Things All Financial Advisors Should Know About ETFs

    Discover five things all financial advisors should know about ETFs, including when ETFs may be a better choice for your clients than mutual funds.
  5. Stock Analysis

    The Top 5 ETFs to Track the Nasdaq in 2016

    Check out five ETFs tracking the NASDAQ that investors should consider heading into 2016, including the famous PowerShares QQQ Trust.
  6. Investing

    Time to Bring Active Back into a Portfolio?

    While stocks have rallied since the economic recovery in 2009, many active portfolio managers have struggled to deliver investor returns in excess.
  7. Chart Advisor

    Now Could Be The Time To Buy IPOs

    There has been lots of hype around the IPO market lately. We'll take a look at whether now is the time to buy.
  8. Stock Analysis

    Allstate: How Being Boring Earns it Billions (ALL)

    A summary of what Allstate Insurance sells and whom it sells it to including recent mergers and acquisitions that have helped boost its bottom line.
  9. Chart Advisor

    Copper Continues Its Descent

    Copper prices have been under pressure lately and based on these charts it doesn't seem that it will reverse any time soon.
  10. Options & Futures

    Cyclical Versus Non-Cyclical Stocks

    Investing during an economic downturn simply means changing your focus. Discover the benefits of defensive stocks.
  1. Should mutual funds be subject to more regulation?

    Mutual funds, when compared to other types of pooled investments such as hedge funds, have very strict regulations. In fact, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do ETFs pay capital gains?

    Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) can generate capital gains that are transferred to shareholders, typically once a year, triggering ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do real estate hedge funds work?

    A hedge fund is a type of investment vehicle and business structure that aggregates capital from multiple investors and invests ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Are Vanguard ETFs commission-free?

    While some Vanguard exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are available commission-free from third-party brokers, a large portion ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Do Vanguard ETFs require a minimum investment?

    Vanguard completely waives any U.S. dollar minimum amounts to buy its exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and the minimum ETF investment ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Can mutual fund expense ratios be negative?

    Mutual fund expense ratios cannot be negative. An expense ratio is the sum total of all fees charged by an asset management ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center