Shopping Tips for Consumer Stocks

Though the group has underperformed slightly, S&P's Thomas Graves regards outfits like Claire's Stores and Guitar Center as strong buys

U.S. consumers are fashion-conscious and fascinated by the latest in digital electronics -- but still price-sensitive. So says Thomas Graves, Standard & Poor's group head for analysis of consumer-discretionary stocks, which have been modestly underperforming the broader market recently. And he predicts that consumer spending will rise more slowly in 2005 than it did last year.

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