Understanding Different Stock Sectors: A Key to Portfolio Diversification


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You’ve probably heard about how smart investors always diversify their stock portfolios.


But what the heck does that mean exactly?



One smart way to diversify your investments in the stock market is to invest in different industries like technology, finance, energy, etc.


Investors refer to this variety of industries as stock sectors.


Why should you understand different stock sectors?


The economy goes through natural cycles outside of our control. And we’ll inevitably see both downturns and upturns in the stock market.


Specific stock sectors are sensitive to different stages of the economic cycle.


In other words, some sectors might thrive when the economy is growing, while others may perform well when the economy is in a recession.


Investors refer to this cycle as sector rotation.


Familiarizing yourself with different sectors of the stock market can help you diversify and protect your portfolio from potential downturns.


So, what are the different stock sectors you ask?


Buckle up and we’ll dive into the 11 different stock sectors together. In this article, we’ll go over what each sector focuses on and we’ll even share some of the best-performing companies in each sector.




The 11 different stock sectors


IT

The information technology (IT) sector includes a wide range of technology types including software and hardware. IT also includes services related to technological services like Google and Facebook.


Some reputable companies in the IT sector include:

  • Apple (NASDAQ: APPL)

  • Facebook (NASDAQ: FB)

Healthcare

The healthcare sector is made up of two different parts.


The first includes pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.


The second includes healthcare equipment and services including medical insurance and healthcare supplies.


Notable companies in this sector include:

  • Johnson and Johnson (JNJ)

  • United Health Group (UNH)




Financials

The financials sector includes companies involved with handling money. This includes banks, insurance companies, brokerages, finance providers, etc.


Some of the best-performing companies in the financial sector include:

  • Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B)

  • JP Morgan: (NYSE: JPM)

Consumer Discretionary

Consumer discretionary includes goods and services that range from low to high prices depending on the consumer’s financial status.


This includes automobile, e-commerce, hotel, and restaurant companies:

  • Amazon (AMZN)

  • McDonald’s (MCD)

Communication services

The communication services sector ranges from wireless telecom networks and old-school landline services. This sector also includes media and entertainment companies like TV, radio, and even forms of communication over the internet.


Well-known companies in this sector include:

  • Facebook (FB)

  • Google (GOOGL) (GOOG)

Industrials

Industrials include a variety of companies involved in heavy equipment. This could include companies focused on construction, aerospace, defense, engineering, machinery, electricity, and more.


Popular companies in this sector include:

  • Boeing (BA)

  • Union Pacific (UNP)

Consumer Staples

Consumer staple companies focus on the production of food, personal products, and household products.


Some popular companies in this sector include:

  • Coca-Cola:(KO)

  • Procter and Gamble: (PG)

Energy

The energy sector covers companies that produce oil, gas, and renewable resources.


Some large companies in the energy sector include:

  • Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM)

  • Chevron (NYSE: CVX)




Utilities

The utilities sector encompasses companies that provide amenities like water, sewage, electricity, dams, and natural gas.


Utilities are stable investments because everyone needs them. This makes them popular for long-term investments. Even during economic downturns utility companies have lower volatility and provide predictable returns. Some large companies in the utilities sector include:

  • NRG Energy (NRG)

  • Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG)

Real Estate

The real estate sector is made up of property management companies, commercial real estate, mortgage companies, and real estate investment trusts (also known as REITs). Popular companies in this sector include:

  • American Tower Corp (AMT)

  • Digital Realty Trust (DTR)

Materials

Material companies encompass a wide range of types of products including plastic, concrete, paper, fertilizer, metals, and more.


Well-performing companies in the materials sector include:

  • Sherwin Williams (SHW)

  • DuPont (DD)



How to invest in different stock sectors

Okay, you know about the different types of companies that make up the stock market. And you know how important it is to diversify.


But what do you do with this information?


There are a few ways you can go about investing in different sectors.

  • ETFs: If you’re interested in a specific industry, but you’re not sure which company to choose, there are many ETF options available that include the best-performing stocks of each sector.

  • Invest in what you’re interested in: Some of the most successful investors say that you should only invest in something you understand. So if you have extensive knowledge on a subject like real estate or healthcare, then you may be able to use that as an advantage when researching companies.

  • Trends: Some might say that technology companies currently have the best-performing stocks. Others also talk about how clean energy will cause a spike in energy stocks in the near future. You can keep track of news in a specific sector and use your knowledge to invest in specific types of companies. But be careful not to invest in something just because of the hype. Remember to use your fundamental analysis to make your decisions.

  • Diversification: And of course you’ll want to use the different stock sectors to diversify your portfolio. Don’t just focus on the hype of technology stocks. Maybe you can look at Coca-Cola in the consumer staples sector or Johnson and Johnson in the healthcare sector - both of which are known for dividend investments.



What now?

As always do your own research before making any investment. Now that you understand different sectors and why they’re important, you can improve your strategy around diversifying your portfolio.


Take note of companies that do well during recessions. Typically sectors including healthcare, utilities, and consumer staples continue to do well even during economic downturns.


As you gain more experience in the stock market, you’ll see how different sectors perform over the years. You don’t need to invest in every stock market sector. And you don’t need to feel rushed to diversify your portfolio either.


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