Cyclical Stocks VS Non-Cyclical Stocks

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Companies have their own cycles; they spend and hire more in better economic times when they are selling more of their goods and services. But when the economy enters a downward cycle slowing or no growth, these spending and buying cycles are also gradually getting weaker. A lot of stocks mirror this cyclic economic activity, though some stocks are more sensitive to cyclical changes than others. The stocks that perform better regardless of the kind of economic cycle are called non-cyclicals. On one hand, those stocks that work well in the good economic times but do more poorly when the economy turns down are known as cyclicals. Knowing the difference between the two can help you make better investment decisions.

In this article, cyclical and non-cyclical stocks will be defined and will give you an idea on how to invest in both kinds of stocks.

See also Short-Term vs. Long-term Investment: The Difference


Cyclical stocks include businesses that function in industries with high consumer spending during when the economy is growing. Businesses like automobile makers, home and building construction, and those that manufacture other luxury products such as boats are all examples of cyclical stocks. During an economic expansion, these businesses get most of the increases in spending as consumers are more willing to spend their extra incomes on luxury items. During an economic downturn, consumers minimize their spending as they are becoming more strict to their budgets. Rather than splurging on unnecessary goods that make up businesses with cyclical stocks, consumers choose to spend their money on important items.


Non-cyclical stocks, or defensive stocks, consist of businesses that run in industries that work well during economic recessions. This is because these businesses have basic human necessities such as utilities. Extravagant goods are nice to have, but consumers need utilities such as water, electricity, and gas. When there is low confidence in the economy, and there is a likelihood of reduced salaries or jobs, consumers choose to spend their money on necessary goods over unnecessary ones. This lifts the share price of non-cyclical stocks and lessens the share price of cyclical stocks.

Businesses with non-cyclical stocks have steady demand, which means that demand for their goods or products is always present. On one hand, businesses with cyclical stocks have a demand that changes based on the economic condition.

Cyclical and Non-cyclical Stocks


If you are a beginner investor and you are looking to buy into stocks as long-term fundamental investments, then you should invest on the basis of the underlying business of the company. You should take time to understand earnings, cash flow, costs, debt, etc. and check how the business would go. Although cyclical stocks’ earnings can go up or down greatly throughout the business cycle, lots of long-term investors still hold onto auto or construction stocks irrespective of the business cycle, as it is often too difficult to predict how the stock price will react during a given time period. This strategy is probably the best for new investors. Non-cyclical stocks, such as food, beverage, and medical stocks, whose earnings remain in bad market times, do not always reflect this in their stock price, but their stock prices commonly do not decline as much as the non-cyclical stocks. So, for instance, if the Dow Jones Industrial Average drops an average of 10 percent or 15 percent, probably a cyclical stock might slide 25 percent and a non-cyclical only 5 percent.

If you notice a recession ahead, you could try to focus less on the cyclical stocks and more on the non-cyclical ones. However, timing this well can be difficult. If you are a dollar-cost-average investor or a long-term buy-and-hold investor, you do not need to worry so much about the changing stock price. Rather than trying to outwit the stock market’s movements, you can still focus on buying the stocks of good companies, whether they are cyclical or non-cyclical, at advantageous prices. After all, that can still be a way to making money in stocks.

See also Short-Term vs. Long-term Investment: The Difference

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