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Stock Market Wrap-Up: Clorox, Kroger Cleaning Up on Coronavirus Buying

By Dan Caplinger - Updated Mar 16, 2020 at 3:52PM

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The stock market once again had its worst day ever, by some measures.

The stock market keeps making history, and Monday's latest entry for the record books wasn't a good one. Market participants expressed their displeasure with the Federal Reserve's emergency full-point rate cut without any real progress on meaningful fiscal stimulus, and that set off the downward circuit breaker within the first minute of trading. By the end of the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.00%), S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.16%), and Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.00%) were all down 12% to 13%.

Today's stock market

Index

Percentage Change

Point Change

Dow

(12.93%)

(2,997)

S&P 500

(11.98%)

(325)

Nasdaq Composite

(12.32%)

(970)

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Some stocks managed to avoid the downturn and even move higher on the day. Clorox (CLX 0.59%) has some of its products in high demand in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, while grocery store operators like Kroger (KR -1.89%) have seen unprecedented levels of customer shopping as people stock up on essentials.

Squeaky-clean gains for Clorox

Shares of Clorox were higher by 4% as investors continued to look for stock ideas that could withstand fears about coronavirus. Given the importance of cleaning products to the fight against the virus, it's easy to understand why the consumer products giant is one of the only stocks that's up over the past few weeks.

Clorox logo on the side of an office building lobby.

Image source: Clorox.

Clorox is known well for its bleach and disinfectant products, including wipes and cleaners. Clorox also has a line of hand sanitizers, and stores across the nation have had a tough time keeping its products in stock.

In addition to holding up well during the current crisis, Clorox also has a long history of treating its shareholders well. A dividend yield of 2.5% shares the company's success with its investors, and 43 straight years of consistent payout increases shows its commitment to dividend growth.

Clorox stock is looking fairly expensive, but some investors believe that the shift in perceptions about hygiene could last beyond the COVID-19 outbreak. If that's the case, then Clorox could see a permanent rise in demand that could help its stock keep climbing in the future.

Taking stock

Shares of Kroger were up a more modest 1% Monday, but that was still an impressive performance compared to the broader market's plunge. Grocery stores have seen unprecedented demand as schools, businesses, and other places where people gather close their doors, and Kroger is working hard to meet that demand.

Kroger has been bucking the trend compared to other stores, choosing not to limit its hours and instead making an effort to make its essential goods available to all as much as possible. Kroger stores are also hiring new workers, helping to make up ground from those who've been laid off from other jobs and helping to ensure that it can keep its shelves stocked and its stores cleaned despite the high customer traffic levels.

Even so, Kroger is responding to the coronavirus. The store is among those working to keep supplies of certain key goods available by limiting purchase amounts on items like sanitary products and cold medicines. Taking those measures comes with its own challenges, but it makes it more likely that more people will get at least some of what they need.

As estimates rise for how long the response to the COVID-19 outbreak could remain in place, investors are getting nervous. With these key stocks, though, fighting the coronavirus could give their businesses a boost for the foreseeable future.

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Stocks Mentioned

The Kroger Co. Stock Quote
The Kroger Co.
KR
$47.23 (-1.89%) $0.91
The Clorox Company Stock Quote
The Clorox Company
CLX
$144.75 (0.59%) $0.85
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$31,097.26 (0.00%) $0.00
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
^GSPC
$3,831.39 (0.16%) $6.06
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
^IXIC
$11,127.85 (0.00%) $0.00

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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