The consumer staples sector is comprised of companies that produce and sell common household products considered essential for everyday use. These products include home goods, food, beverages, hygiene products, and other items that individuals are either unwilling or unable to eliminate from their budgets even in times of financial trouble. Because of this, these companies are viewed as non-cyclical and able to maintain stable growth regardless of the state of the economy. The big names in the sector include Procter & Gamble Co. (PG), Coca-Cola Co. (KO), and Altria Group Inc. (MO). Consumer staples stocks, as represented by the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLP), have slightly outperformed the broader market, providing investors with a total return of 26.0% compared to the S&P 500's total return of 24.3% over the past 12 months. These market performance numbers and the statistics in the tables below are as of January 27.

Here are the top 3 consumer staples stocks with the best value, the fastest earnings growth, and the most momentum.

Best Value Consumer Staples Stocks

These are the consumer staples stocks with the lowest 12-month trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Because profits can be returned to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks, a low P/E ratio shows you’re paying less for each dollar of profit generated.

Best Value Consumer Staples Stocks
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing P/E Ratio
The Kroger Co. (KR) 28.19 22.6 14.4
General Mills Inc. (GIS) 53.71 32.5 15.4
Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN) 85.93 31.4 15.6

Source: YCharts

  • The Kroger Co.: Kroger operates supermarkets, drug stores, multi-department stores, jewellery stores, and convenience stores. The company also engages in the manufacture and processing of some of the food it sells in its supermarkets.
  • General Mills Inc.: General Mills manufactures and markets branded consumer foods and pet food products sold through retail stores. The company is also a supplier of branded and unbranded food products to the foodservice and commercial baking industries.
  • Tyson Foods Inc.: Tyson Foods produces, distributes, and markets chicken, beef, pork, and prepared foods. Some of its brands include Hillshire Farm, Sara Lee, and State Fair.

Fastest Growing Consumer Staples Stocks

These are the consumer staples stocks with the highest year-over-year (YOY) earnings per share (EPS) growth for the most recent quarter. Rising earnings show that a company’s business is growing and is generating more money that it can reinvest or return to shareholders.

Fastest Growing Consumer Staples Stocks
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) EPS Growth (%)
Walmart Inc. (WMT) 114.37 324.5 98.3
Conagra Brands Inc. (CAG) 32.28 15.7 71.0
General Mills Inc. (GIS) 53.71 32.5 66.7

Source: YCharts

  • Walmart Inc.: Walmart operates retail and wholesale businesses. The company offers a broad assortment of merchandise including apparel, house wares, small appliances, electronics, books, home improvement, jewellery, games, pharmaceutical products, household essentials, and automotive tools. Walmart posted YOY EPS growth of 98.3% and YOY revenue growth of 2.5% for its Q3 2020 fiscal year (FY) that ended October 31, 2019.
  • Conagra Brands Inc.: Conagra Brands engages in the manufacture and marketing of processed and packaged foods. The company produces and sells items including packaged meals, condiments, entrees and sides, snacks, specialty potatoes, milled grain ingredients, dehydrated vegetables and seasonings, and blends. Conagra announced earlier this month that it had completed its divestiture of its Lender's Bagel business to Bimbo Bakeries USA Inc.
  • General Mills Inc.: See company description above.

Consumer Staples Stocks with the Most Momentum

These are the consumer staples stocks that had the highest total return over the last 12 months.

Consumer Staples Stocks with the Most Momentum
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing Total Return (%)
Target Corp. (TGT) 114.32 57.9 67.0
The Estee Lauder Companies Inc. (EL) 205.34 73.9 65.6
Brown-Forman Corp. (BF.B) 71.79 34.3 59.3
S&P 500 (SPY) N/A N/A 24.3
Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLP) N/A N/A 26.0

Source: YCharts

  • Target Corp.: Target owns and operates general merchandise and food discount stores as well as a fully integrated online business. The company offers a wide assortment of general merchandise and food.
  • The Estee Lauder Companies Inc.: Estee Lauder is engaged in the manufacture and marketing of a wide range of skin care, makeup, fragrance, and hair care products. The company announced last month that it had completed its acquisition of Have & Be Co. Ltd., the global skin care company behind the high-growth, skin care brand Dr. Jart+ and men's grooming brand Do The Right Thing.
  • Brown-Forman Corp.: Brown-Forman produces and distributes alcoholic beverages. The company's main products include branded whiskey, vodka, wines, tequila, bourbon, and gin.