Even in a recession, consumers consume, but they watch their pennies. Care to guess the AdMarket 50's standout performer for 2008? Wal-Mart Stores, which managed a year-to-date gain of 17.3% as shoppers bought into its value-priced pitch.
Only one other AdMarket stock eked out a gain: McDonald's Corp., up 2.4%. Burgers and fries sell in good times and bad.
Need more depth?
You'll find more data and links at AdAge.com/annual09
Consumer staples and drugs -- Johnson & Johnson, Wyeth, Procter & Gamble Co., Kraft Foods, Kellogg Co. -- did comparatively well, each down less than 20%. No surprise; consumers are still buying Crest and Corn Flakes.
Worst performer: newspaper publisher McClatchy Co., which plunged 91.8%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Ad Age/Bloomberg AdMarket 50 plunged 47.5% and 43.1%, respectively, from the October '07 all-time highs to November '08 bear-market nadir. Microsoft hit its lowest price since 1998; News Corp., lowest since '92; Interpublic Group, lowest since '87.
Was that the true bear-market bottom? Stay tuned. With a great recession still playing out, it's pretty early to be counting on economic -- or stock market -- recovery.