Dressing Up a Bear Market

A stick of lipstick, a nice shampoo, a lotion or two. Even though consumers are cutting back, the makers of cosmetics are still thriving. Until Oct. 1, the group had a double-digit share-price gain for the year. But during the week of Oct. 1 to 6, cosmetics got smeared: They lost 10 percent. Over three months (July 7 to Oct. 6), cosmetics gained 2 percent while the S&P 500 was down 16 percent. The best performers: Revlon, up 67 percent; Elizabeth Arden, up 19 percent; Chattem, up 13 percent; Stephan, up 8 percent.

Cosmetic companies vs. S&P 500, July 7 to Oct. 6, 2008

[Graph: Cosmetic companies vs. S&P 500, July 7 to Oct. 6, 2008]

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