Consumer goods stocks belong to companies that make products used by consumers in their everyday lives. This category includes items such as food and beverages, household cleaners and hygiene products, as well as some cosmetics, alcohol and tobacco items. Many consumer goods products are viewed as essential, or items that people are unable, or unwilling, to live without.
And so, the essential nature of consumer goods makes them sound investments in both good times and bad. The fact that consumers continue to buy these goods regardless of their financial situation makes the companies behind the products largely immune to economic cycles. Consequently, the financial results of consumer goods companies remain strong.
For investors wanting to provide some protection to their portfolio, it’s not a bad idea to add a consumer goods stock or two. They are great bets against inflation and market downturns. Let’s examine three consumer goods stocks defying market expectations.
It doesn’t get as much attention as it probably deserves, but Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) remains a solid consumer goods stock to own. The company, whose products include Colgate toothpaste, Speed Stick deodorant, and Irish Spring soap, among others, continues to post strong financial results that are pushing its share price higher. Year to date (YTD), CL stock is up 5%, bringing its 12-month gain to 16%. Also, the stock pays a quarterly dividend of 48 cents a share, giving it a strong yield of 2.27%.
Recently, Colgate-Palmolive posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter 2023 earnings that included a profit of 87 cents a share, which beat forecasts of 85 cents. Revenue amounted to $4.95 billion, which also beat the $4.89 billion expected on Wall Street. Like many consumer goods companies, Colgate-Palmolive is able to lift prices without alienating consumers. Higher prices in Q4 gave the company’s gross profit margins a boost of 400 basis points to 59.6%. That number is among the highest in the industry.
Ulta Beauty (ULTA)
Also up 5% this year is the stock of Ulta Beauty (NASDAQ:ULTA). The cosmetics company is known for its skin creams and perfumes that are popular with consumers.
ULTA has seen its share price rise 37% from a bottom it reached in October of last year during a broad market downturn. Also, the stock has been running hot since the company issued its latest financial results this past November. ULTA stock rose 11% in one trading session after its results were made public.
The consumer products retailer announced earnings per share (EPS) of $5.07 and revenue of $2.49 billion for its fiscal third quarter. Analysts had forecast earnings of $4.96 per share and $2.47 billion in revenue. Additionally, Ulta Beauty raised its forward guidance, saying it anticipates full-year sales of $11.10 billion to $11.15 billion, up from a previous range of $11.05 billion to $11.15 billion. The company expects EPS of $25.20 to $25.60 for all of this year, up from a previous forecast of $25.10 to $25.60.
Through five years, ULTA stock is up 75%, making it a consumer goods stock that’s defying market expectations.
General Mills (GIS)
For investors looking to buy into weakness, there’s General Mills (NYSE:GIS). The packaged foods company struggled mightily this past year as shoppers seek cheaper generic versions of its products amid high inflation. In delivering its latest financial results last December, the company’s management team said that weak consumer spending has resulted in “lower organic sales growth.”
Further, the situation has pushed GIS stock down 17% over the last 12 months. However, signs indicate the worst may be over, especially with interest rates expected to decline this year. General Mills’ share price has increased 8% since hitting a bottom last October. More gains can be expected if the company beats its own forward guidance in coming quarters. Those were deliberately conservative with forecasts of flat sales in 2024. Plus, GIS stock looks cheap trading at 15 times future earnings estimates. And the company pays a quarterly dividend of 59 cents per share, which is good for a strong yield of 3.62%.
On the date of publication, Joel Baglole did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.