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Church & Dwight leads 7.1% rise in consumer staples stocks in July

Church & Dwight Co. Inc. was the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 Consumer Staples index in July as the household products manufacturer raised its profit forecast for fiscal 2020.

According to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence, the consumer staples sector rose 7.1% during the month, outperforming the wider S&P 500's gain of 4.8%.

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Only four out of the 33 constituents of the S&P 500 Consumer Staples index booked losses in July.

Church & Dwight, which owns the Arm & Hammer brand, topped the consumer staples sector with a gain of 16.5% in July. Its shares rose 7% on July 31 after it reported a 35.1% increase in its second-quarter earnings.

Energy drink company Monster Beverage Corp. and confectionery- and snacks-maker The Hershey Co. were the second and third-best performers in the index, recording returns of 12.3% and 12.1%, respectively.

Hershey on July 23 said it would raise its quarterly dividend by 4% after reporting earnings that beat estimates in the second quarter. The company was the third-worst performing stock in June.

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Coty Inc. and Lamb Weston Holdings Inc., which led the consumer staples sector in the previous month, sank to the bottom of the sector in July.

New York-based Coty was the worst-performing stock in the index with a decline of 14.5% in July. The cosmetics company on July 2 named former L'Oréal SA executive Sue Nabi as its third CEO in 2020. S&P Global Ratings also downgraded the company, saying its continuous senior management shakeups pose a risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lamb Weston booked a loss of 7.2% in July, down from a 6.4% gain in June. The potato-products maker on July 28 swung to a loss in its fiscal fourth quarter.

Pharmacy chain Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.'s shares declined 4.1% in July after it reported fiscal third-quarter results that missed expectations. Walgreens on July 27 said CEO Stefano Pessina plans to step down.

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Ten of the 11 sectors in the S&P 500 reported gains in July, with the consumer discretionary sector posting the largest advance at 7.6%. The S&P 500 Energy index posted a decline of 4.6% during the month.

L Brands Inc. topped the S&P 500 index as its stock rose 63.9% during the month. Shares of the retailer soared 35% on July 29 after announcing plans to deliver about $400 million in annualized cost reductions through its profit improvement strategy for Victoria's Secret.

Ohio-based utilities company FirstEnergy Corp. was the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500 with a 25.6% decline. The company disclosed on July 21 that it received subpoenas in connection with a federal racketeering conspiracy case.

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