• Category
  • >Financial Analytics

What are Cyclical Stocks?

  • Mallika Rangaiah
  • Oct 27, 2021
What are Cyclical Stocks? title banner

The onset of the COVID19 pandemic has posed a considerable risk upon the financial sector worldwide and has impacted the stock market both favourably and adversely. While some industries like tourism and cinema received the worst end of the stick, we have also got industries like e-commerce and the online food industry which have been sailing strong and have even received a boost amidst these trying times. 


Related blog - How is AI being used to combat COVID19?


But how would we know whether a stock is due to fall or to rise? There’s really no concrete way to pinpoint this with there being a number of factors at stake. Alongside the shifts of the stock market, the stocks are also steered by factors like the state of the overall economy and of course the policies of the organizations itself. 


Every stock has a volatile nature by default, with it never having a set price and being susceptible to alterations in the market conditions. Yet there are also some stocks that are relatively more eccentric, fetching extreme losses in case of a dwindling economy and showering considerably favourable gains in case of a booming economy. These have been pegged as cyclical stocks. 



What are Cyclical Stocks?


Cyclical stocks are the stocks which fluctuate in accordance with the state of the economy. They shift to and fro based on the conditions of the economy. 


These stocks are highly sensitive to the economy cycles and are invested upon by businesses who are highly reliant on making use of consumer demand to expand their stock value as well as their business. Cyclical stocks are the kind of stocks which largely depend on factors like timing to determine if they’re worth investing. 

The shares invested upon by clothing businesses, airline, hospitality hotel, automobile, household and luxury goods are pegged as cyclical, since these businesses are the most susceptible to a rise and fall in their sales whenever the economy is affected. 


The profits earned by these businesses prosper when the economy is sailing strong with consumers having a lot of disposable income to expend on the products of such businesses. Yet at the same time, the consumers restraining their spending amidst a recession or an economy slowdown can result in the profits falling. 


Cyclical stocks tend to be traded extensively since they are generally purchased when the business cycle is at rock bottom and sold when the cycle is at its peak. 


How can cyclical stocks be detected?


Noting the beta value of the stock is a popular approach for detecting cyclical stocks. A beta value compares returns to evaluate the susceptibility of a share price to the variations that take place in the broader market. 


Recommended blog - Silver Stocks


In general the beta value of one implies that the price of a share moves along with the market.  While a beta value of more than one implies that the stock is far more volatile than the market as a whole. When it comes to Cyclical stocks, they fit into the third category. 


How do Cyclical Stocks work?


When the economic circumstances are good, businesses prosper and grow, from purchasing fresh infrastructure, developing fresh facilities and also investing in areas like research and development. In case of an economic slowdown, businesses finish off with inventory, place a halt on expansions and put a setback on purchases. 


The company’s Cyclical stocks like steel manufacturing and sales face the worst end of the stick whenever the business takes a downturn. As a result it is crucial to use them in a diplomatic manner to ensure that maximum returns can be generated.  



Examples of Cyclical Industries

The image depicts the Examples of Cyclical Industries which are namely - AutomobilesTextiles and apparelRetailHousehold durablesDining and hospitalityBanksTravel and entertainment

Examples of Cyclical Industries

Cyclical stocks are generally part of industries which are centered around discretionary spending, which include areas like travel, entertainment, automobile manufacturing,   or luxury dining. Some industrial sectors which generally invest in cyclical stocks include : 


  • Automobiles: In case of a crunch in the flow of money, activities relating to automobiles are one of the first things that consumers end up putting a pause on. Whether it is their purchase or even their maintenance. This in turn leads to a decline in the manufacturing as well as the sale of all automobiles and the equipment relating to them. 


For instance with the onset of the pandemic, a considerable drop was observed in the revenue for manufacturing auto parts, with the rate of unemployment escalating and a drop in the number of consumers being noted. 


Suggested Read - Elasticity of demand


  • Textiles and apparel: Whether it is expensive designer brand clothing or classy accessories, the priority of these items always shrinks in the face of recession.  


  • Retail: Of course when we’re in the middle of a recession or running out of funds, we wouldn’t place much emphasis on luxury retail goods. Yet the retailers that sell the items which are a necessity for consumers aren’t generally regarded as cyclical. 


For instance many investors point out that brands like Amazon, are powerful and dynamic and malleable enough to be pegged as non cyclical stocks. 


Recommended blog - How Amazon uses Big Data?


  • Household durables: We all push off buying that expensive HD definition TV and that exclusive refrigerator whenever funds get tight. Any plans of kickstarting with home renovations will also be put to the side. 


  • Dining and hospitality: While eating is definitely an essential activity yet dining out and/or staying in hotels is one of the first luxuries to be given the backseat whenever the economy dwindles. 


  • Banks: In the face of recession, banks generally pay the price with the demand for their products falling, their debtors struggling to repay their debts and the rate of interest also taking a plunge which in turn causes the profit margins of banks to drip.


  • Travel and entertainment: Of course it's always a pleasure to get to travel and entertain ourselves. But that exclusive cruise, promising tour of the hillside or the luxury of hitchhiking across the globe can wait when times get hard and necessity becomes the foremost priority over what we desire. It needs to be noted that the categories listed above aren’t exactly at a standstill. The classification of these industries can keep varying and changing as per the circumstances. 



Examples of non-cyclical industries


As the name implies, non-cyclical stocks are obviously stocks which are not cyclical stocks. These are also pegged as defensive stocks. These stocks are invested upon by companies which are not impacted too extremely by the economy’s ebb and flows. The returns and dividends offered by these stocks are fairly steady. 


This does not necessarily imply that the defensive stocks do not have the risk of recession. Even these stocks tend to fall in value in case of a dwindling economy, yet their fall or rise would not be as extreme as that of Cyclical stocks.  


Suggested Read - Penny Stocks


We can generally find defensive stocks in sectors offering basic necessities like food and healthcare items. 


Below, we’ve listed some integral examples of non-cyclical industries:


  • Non-discretionary retail


This includes companies which sell items that are a necessity for the consumers and which are generally quite adaptable. Drugstores and dominant grocery stores are also a part of this category. 


  • Utilities 


The stocks for Utilities are non cyclical, as consumers generally still pay their electric and water bills even in the midst of recessions. 


  • Real estate 


This is a sector which is regarded as defensive, though the extent of its defensiveness greatly relies on the fundamentals of the company. For instance, the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) that extend their focus to office properties or hospitals, generally offer better outcomes in case of weak economies as opposed to hotel owners. 


  • Defense


The necessity of military defense stays strong even amidst recessions.. With geopolitical and international conflicts refusing to subside, we’ll always have the governments worldwide investing in optimum quality defense technologies, keeping the sector on the safe side in the face of an economic slowdown. 



Advantages and disadvantages of cyclical stocks


Below we’ve listed some evident advantages of Cyclical stocks : 


  • Optimum performance : Whenever the economy is prospering, cyclical stocks are always reaping the benefits. In such circumstances these stocks can even beat growth stocks as well as the overall market. 


  • High Volatility offers promising bargains : The extreme rate of volatility of these stocks make purchasing them amidst recessions the perfect oppurtunity owing to their high loss of value. With their value being low, investors get a lucrative opening for investing while the price is low and then selling them when the market is booming. 


Recommended blog - Virtual Reality Stocks


  • Diversification :  It becomes a useful strategy to invest in both cyclical and non cyclical stocks, with cyclical stocks expanding at a fast rate and offering huge returns and non cyclical stocks being more constant keeping companies afloat amidst difficult times. 


It's not all wine and roses when it comes to cyclical stocks. We’ve pointed out some of its disadvantages below :


  • The state of the economy holds the reins : Cyclical stocks are highly dependent upon the economy and face the brunt everytime the economy rises, falls or revives. The condition of the economy holds an undeniable level of importance here. While a dominant and steady company may be comparatively more protected and sheltered yet the risk of its stocks getting hit still remains. 


  • Eccentric and Unpredictable: It's all good when the economy is well and good yet the risk of uncertainty is high and everything can fall apart in case of any unfortunate slowdown of the economy. The performance of the stocks can dwindle or rise with every twist in the circumstances. 


  • It’s all about the timing: It is imperative that the investors stay on top of the ups and downs of the stock market so that they buy or sell them at the perfect moment to seek maximum returns. So staying updated with economic forecasts and changes in the securities market becomes integral for the investors to be able to survive and stay afloat. 


Cyclical stocks are the stocks that are susceptible to the economic conditions at any point of time which makes it an advantage for investors to invest in both cyclical and non cyclical (defensive) stocks so that they can seek both the perks of the growing economy and soften the blow in case of a weak economy.

Latest Comments

  • startupindias007

    Oct 27, 2021

    Thanks for the article.