The 15 Most-Watched Food and Staples Stocks

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People watch stocks for different reasons -- they're waiting for a dip in price, watching for a specific catalyst, gathering all the news and information that might affect stocks they already own, or considering a sell. Regardless of their motivation, we can better understand market sentiment by seeing who's watching what. With the Fool's free My Watchlist service, we have tens of thousands of people telling us the businesses that have, for whatever reason, piqued their interest.

With this data we have come up with a new metric, watch interest, to inform investors what stocks their peers keep tabs on in each industry. In the case of the food and staples industry, watch interest is the percentage of people keeping an eye on food and staples stocks in general who are specifically watching each company. By looking at what stocks people are most interested in an industry, you can get ahead of the curb by finding hot stocks that you might have otherwise overlooked. The industry fluctuates with how average Americans are doing, some analysts are worried that the debt crisis will have an oversized effect on low-income families and thus on food and staples companies.

The most-watched food and staples stock is ...
Looking at the aggregate data, we see that Wal-Mart (NYS: WMT) is above the rest in terms of watch interest and for good reason. As CAPS player tbonci wrote in May:

This stock is currently undervalued. They have a high RoE, gobs of cash, a 7.9% earnings yield, and a low P/Sales and P/E. Looking toward future potential, Wal-Mart is seeking expansion into untapped developing markets. Even if the South Africa deal is a bumpy ride, the management clearly has their eyes set on moving to the large global stage, which will only be good for shareholders.

Here are the rest of the 15 most-watched companies in the industry with their watch interest along with the stocks' CAPS rating to show the sentiment of our investing community.

 

Company

Market Cap (in millions)

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Watch Interest

1

Wal-Mart

$187,900

***

24.7%

2

Costco (NAS: COST)

$34,294

****

17.0%

3

Sysco (NYS: SYY)

$17,849

*****

8.4%

4

Walgreen (NYS: WAG)

$35,348

****

8.2%

5

Whole Foods Market (NAS: WFM)

$11,720

***

7.7%

6

SUPERVALU (NYS: SVU)

$1,869

****

6.9%

7

CVS Caremark (NYS: CVS)

$49,218

****

6.6%

8

Rite Aid (NYS: RAD)

$1,157

*

5.2%

9

Kroger (NYS: KR)

$15,049

***

3.2%

10

China Nepstar Chain Drugstore (NYS: NPD)

$290

***

2.4%

11

Safeway (NYS: SWY)

$7,499

**

1.3%

12

The Fresh Market (NAS: TFM)

$1,720

****

1.1%

13

BJ's Wholesale Club (NYS: BJ)

$2,776

****

1.1%

14

PriceSmart (NAS: PSMT)

$1,788

*****

0.9%

15

Winn-Dixie (NAS: WINN)

$527

***

0.8%

Sources: Motley Fool, Motley Fool CAPS.

Whether you're keeping an eye on the industry stalwarts like Wal-Mart or are watching an up-and-comer like China Nepstar Chain Drugstore, it pays to watch. We can help you keep tabs on your companies with My Watchlist, our free, personalized stock tracking service. Click here to start now.

At the time this article was published Dan Dzombak'smusings and articles he finds interesting can be found on his Twitter account:@DanDzombak.The Motley Fool owns shares of SUPERVALU, Whole Foods Market, Costco Wholesale, and Wal-Mart Stores. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of The Fresh Market, Sysco, Whole Foods Market, Wal-Mart Stores, and Costco Wholesale. They have recommended creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores and buying calls in SUPERVALU. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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