If you're hungry for earnings, food makers have a seasonally slow slate of quarterly reports in stock this week. From ConAgra
The sector has often been considered defensive because the companies tend to hold up well during economic lulls, but it now seems as if the valuations have turned offensive. All three stocks are trading at no less than 17 times trailing earnings.
The multiples aren't entirely reasonable given the industry's typically slow-footed ways. McCormick may appear to be a compelling exception to that rule after growing its sales by 18% this past quarter, but it's also a pricier stock by most multiples.
The stocks deserve a premium to their growth rates given their all-weather luster. However, if you're looking at the sector for undiscovered growth opportunities, you are probably best served by looking past the major players. They are no longer what one would consider Hidden Gems.
Granted, it's not all about the grub. Other companies like Biomet
Are food stocks no longer safe havens? Will investors get soaked going for the all-weather plays in the sector? Discuss your views on the PepsiCo discussion board -- only on Fool.com.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders if McCormick is made of sugar and spice and everything nice. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.