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S&P 500 Consumer Staples index inches down in October

S&P Global Market Intelligence

Cannabis Hashing Out a Budding Industry

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S&P 500 Consumer Staples index inches down in October

The S&P 500 Consumer Staples index booked a 0.1% loss in October and underperformed the broader S&P 500 index, which increased 2.2% during the month, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The consumer staples sector delivered the third-worst return behind the S&P 500 Energy index, which recorded a loss of 2.3%, and the S&P 500 Utilities index, which logged a 0.8% loss.

Overall, the S&P 500 fared better in October compared to the 1.9% gain in September.

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Across the consumer staples sector, 12 of the 33 constituents of the index booked gains and only two recorded double-digit increases.

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The Kraft Heinz Co. emerged as the best-performing stock in the sector with a 15.7% gain after the packaged food producer on Oct. 31 reported third-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts' estimates. CEO Miguel Patricio revealed that the company would cut lower margin products from its range and focus on developing more profitable ones.

Beauty products manufacturer Coty Inc. came second with an 11.2% return in October. The Covergirl parent announced Oct. 21 that it is exploring the sale of its professional hair and nail products business as it works to reduce debt and streamline its structure. Coty's stock jumped as much as 15.12% after the announcement.

In another turbulent month for tobacco companies, Altria Group Inc. was the third-best performer across the consumer staples sector in October with a 9.5% gain, despite writing down the value of its investment in e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. by $4.5 billion. It bounced back from a 4.6% loss in September when it placed at third from the bottom across the sector. The Marlboro-maker on Oct. 31 reported adjusted diluted EPS that beat analysts' expectations.

Hunt's tomato-products maker Conagra Brands Inc. was the worst performer in October with an 11.1% loss. During the month it closed the sale of its Direct Store Delivery snacks business, which includes Tim's Cascade Snacks, Hawaiian Snacks, Erin's, Snyder of Berlin and Husman's, to Utz Quality Foods LLC.

Brewer Molson Coors Brewing Co. slumped to the second-bottom spot during the month after emerging as the best performer in September. The company booked a loss of 8.3%. It came as the Coors Light and Miller Lite brewer reported a year-over-year decline in third-quarter sales and EPS, and unveiled a recovery plan that would see some offices shut and 400 to 500 jobs cut.

Constellation Brands Inc. was the third-worst performer across the consumer staples sector with an 8.2% loss. During the company's fiscal second quarter, the Corona-beer maker reported a $484.4 million loss related to its investment in cannabis producer Canopy Growth Corp. However, Constellation Brands CEO William Newlands said Oct. 3 that the company remains optimistic about its Canopy investment. About a week later, Canopy named Constellation Brands Executive Vice President and CFO David Klein as its chairman.

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Across the S&P 500, the healthcare sector bounced back to the top of the index in October from the bottom in September. Medical device supplier Align Technology Inc. led the S&P 500 with a 39.4% gain.

The worst-performing stock across the S&P 500 was Twitter Inc. after its third-quarter earnings were hit by technical problems with its ad platform. The social media platform booked a 27.3% loss in October.