(Updated for comment on consumer sentiment.)
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- This has been a profitable year to invest in consumer-goods stocks and 2012 may be too, at least for those that have been beaten down.
Consumer-goods shares have generated the second-best returns in the S&P 500 Index this year, rising 11%. Apparel company VF Corp. (VFC), which owns the North Face and Lee brands, is the top gainer at 65%. Tobacco companies and food producers also led the benchmark index.
Household-goods and home-construction companies were the poorest performers, increasing only 3%, in line with the broader S&P 500. That's because of the slump in the real estate market. In fact, the biggest laggard in the index was Whirlpool (WHR), the maker of refrigerators, and washer and dryers.
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