Why are Coles (ASX:COL) shares defying the ASX 200 selloff today?

What’s up with Coles today?

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a happy, smiling woman rides on the back of a trolley down the aisles of a supermarket.

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The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) has had a pretty awful start to the week this Monday. At market close, the ASX 200 is down a nasty 2.10% to 7,248 points. That puts the ASX 200 at roughly 5% below its most recent all-time high of 7,632.8 points that we saw just over a month ago. But one ASX 200 blue-chip sare is bucking the trend today. That would be the Coles Group Ltd (ASX: COL) share price.

Coles shares are defiantly in the green today, swimming against the broader ASX 200 tide. At market close, Coles finished trading at $16.94 a share, up 0.18%.

So why was this company up today in the face of such a nasty market sell off?

Why are investors buying the Coles share price today?

Well, to start things off, we haven’t gotten any major news or announcements from Coles today, so you can rule that out as a possible cause.

However, it’s important to note that investors often turn to consumer staples shares like Coles during times of market stress. This sector has a reputation for being ‘safer’ than most due to the essential nature of the goods Coles and other consumer staples companies sell.

After all, we all need food, drinks and household essentials, rain hail or shine, in good times and bad. Investors know this, and often flock to consumer staples shares like Coles in a climate of fear.

We saw this in action last year during the initial onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Between 22 February and 23 March 2020, the ASX 200 fell roughly 35% peak-to-trough. However, over this same period, the Coles share price actually rose slightly.

We’ve also seen some brokers give a little love to the Coles share price too. As my Fool colleague James covered last week, broker Morgans has recently given Coles shares an ‘add’ rating, with a 2-month share price target of $19.80 a share. That implies a potential future upside of roughly 16% on today’s pricing.

Morgans actually referenced Coles as a “defensive business with strong market positions and a healthy balance sheet”, lending weight to the ‘consumercoles stocks in times of stress’ thesis above. The broker also likes Coles’ future dividend prospects, as well as its FY21 results.

Perhaps this goodwill is also spilling into the company this Monday.

At the current Coles share price, this company has a market capitalisation of $22.68 billion, a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 22.58 and a dividend yield of 3.59%.

Should you invest $1,000 in Coles right now?

Before you consider Coles, you'll want to hear this.

Motley Fool Investing expert Scott Phillips just revealed what he believes are the 5 best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Coles wasn't one of them.

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Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended COLESGROUP DEF SET. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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