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With Walmart (WMT) shares down 7.74% as of noon New York time today, July 26, on the company’s warning yesterday about falling revenue, the pool of safe consumer stocks continues to shrink.

Which is bad if you owned Walmart or Dollar General (DG), also down today (by 1.88%.)

But good (so far) if you owned Coca-Cola (KO) or McDonald’s (MCD), which on the evidence of today’s earnings report are surfing the recession in decent shape. Shares of Coca-Cola were up 1.58% and shares of McDonald’s (MCD) were up 2.51% as of noon.

The Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLP) continued to show relative strength today with a loss of just 0.75% as of noon. That was better than the 1.21% drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500 or the 3.12% tumble in the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLY).

The upside here is that Consumer Staples is one of the few potential safe havens among stock market sectors. That should pull some cash into the sector and support stock prices for consumer staples stocks.

The danger is, as Walmart’s warning and drop demonstrate, that as the recession advances revenue and earnings warnings will chip away at membership in the group. Which would pull money out of individual stocks in the sector in favor of?

Well, on today’s action there seem to be two alternatives. The Utility Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLU) is up 0.81% as of noon; the Healthcare Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLV) is ahead 1.06%.

If you’ve been heavily into consumer staples stocks, this looks like a time to spread your bets.