Personal Investors

Sector Overviews

Consumer Discretionary

Companies that manufacture products and provide services that consumers purchase on a discretionary basis.


  • Apparel, textiles (Nike, Inc.).
  • Food service/lodging (McDonald's Corp., Marriott International, Inc.).
  • Household furniture, appliances (Williams-Sonoma, Inc., Whirlpool Corp.).
  • Leisure-related (The Walt Disney Co., Brunswick Corp.).
  • Printing and publishing (The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.).
  • General retail (Target Corp.).

Consumer Staples

Companies that provide direct-to-consumer products that, based on consumer purchasing habits, are typically considered nondiscretionary.


  • Food products (Campbell Soup Co., Archer Daniels Midland Co.).
  • Beverages (The Coca-Cola Co., Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.).
  • Soaps and toiletries (The Procter & Gamble Co., Colgate-Palmolive Co.).
  • Tobacco (Altria Group, Inc., Reynolds American Inc.).


Companies involved in the exploration and production of energy products, such as oil, natural gas, and coal.


  • Oil and gas drilling (Helmerich & Payne, Inc.).
  • Integrated oil and gas (Marathon Oil Co., Exxon Mobil Corp.).
  • Consumable fuels (Arch Coal, Inc., Peabody Energy Corp.).


Companies that provide financial services.


  • Banks (Wachovia Corp., Wells Fargo & Co.).
  • Consumer finance services (American Express Co., SLM Corp.).
  • Insurance (The Allstate Corp., MetLife, Inc.).

Health Care

Companies involved in providing medical or health care products, services, technology, or equipment.


  • Drugs (Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Merck & Co., Inc.).
  • Biotechnology research and production (Amgen Inc., Biogen Idec Inc.).
  • Medical supplies/services (Medtronic, Inc., Boston Scientific Corp.).
  • Managed health care (Aetna Inc., CIGNA Corp.).


Companies that convert unfinished goods into finished durables used to manufacture other goods or provide services. A product which lasts 1–3 years is considered "durable."


  • Aerospace and defense (Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp.).
  • Machinery (Caterpillar Inc., Ingersoll-Rand Co. Ltd.).
  • Industrial conglomerates (3M Co., General Electric Co.).
  • Airlines (AMR Corp., Southwest Airlines Co.).

Information Technology

Companies that serve the electronics and computer industries or that manufacture products based on the latest applied science.


  • Computers and hardware (Gateway, Inc., Dell Inc.).
  • Software (Microsoft Corp., Intuit Inc.).
  • Internet services (Yahoo! Inc., Google Inc.).
  • Networking (Cisco Systems, Inc., Sun Microsystems, Inc.).
  • Semi-conductors (Intel Corp., National Semiconductor Corp.).


Companies that extract or process raw materials.


  • Chemicals (The Dow Chemical Co., Rohm and Haas Co.).
  • Metals and mining (Alcoa Inc., Newmont Mining Corp.).
  • Paper (International Paper Co., MeadWestvaco Corp.).

Telecommunication Services

Companies that provide telephone, data-transmission, cellular, or wireless communication services.


  • Diversified telephone services (Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Inc.).
  • Wireless (Sprint Nextel Corp., ALLTEL Corp.). 


Companies that distribute electricity, water, or gas, or that operate as independent power producers.


  • Gas (Piedmont Natural Gas Co., Inc.).
  • Electricity (Exelon Corp.).
  • Water (Southwest Water Co.).
  • Power (Energy Future Holdings Corp.).


Note: The companies shown are examples of those included in their respective sectors and are provided for illustrative purposes only. Their inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement or investment by any Vanguard fund.

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