Gold is touted as the ‘ultimate safe-haven’ asset. It’s physical nature, ancient allure and continued relevance long after the end of the gold standard still translate to considerable respect for the yellow metal as a legitimate asset class – alongside stocks, property and bonds.
Yet gold bugs would be nursing some disappointment in recent weeks as the gold price (despite a brief surge) has failed to outshine the collapse of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the spread of the coronavirus.
The Dow last set a new record high of 29,551.20 on Feb. 12. By Tuesday’s close, it stood at 25,018.16 – a 15.3% drop peak-to-trough.
On Feb. 12, the price of gold was $1,565 per ounce. On Wednesday, it stood at $1,667 an ounce, a 6.5% rise in the same period.
Gold would have covered less than half of the losses that the Dow has suffered from Feb. 12 to today. A useful position to have held, but hardly a safety net for stocks.
On Feb. 12, bitcoin was priced at $10,350 but has since collapsed 24.2% to $7,846. It’s a performance worse than the Dow Jones and one that dispels the notion that bitcoin is ‘digital gold’ – exposing more correlation with stocks than the precious metal.
Consumer staples stocks are regarded as the safest stocks to hold in a portfolio and have upheld this reputation convincingly in recent weeks. Since this sector is defined by products essential for living, it’s completely logical that stocks in this space are characterized by resilience to economic shocks.
Take cleaning products manufacturer Clorox Co (NYSE:CLX). Clorox stock has outshone gold by rising 6.7% since Feb. 12 and also offers a 2.42% dividend yield.
Another consumer staples giant, Walmart Inc (NYSE:WMT) stock, has barely felt a scratch either:
Hedging stocks with stocks might upset purists and gold bugs. But the right stocks can effectively protect a portfolio just as well as ingots of metal. And unlike gold, stocks can offer dividend yield too – another increasingly scarce commodity these days.
So far, consumer staples stocks remain an equal, if not superior, portfolio hedge to gold.
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