Tyson Foods, Gold Miners and Gun Makers Defy Market Downturn

What do chicken breasts, gold, plywood and guns have in common? Companies that produce them gained on Monday, even as the broader stock market had its worst day of the year.

The S&P 500 fell nearly 3% as U.S.-China trade tensions heated up, adding to fears of a global economic slowdown. Tech companies, many of which are highly exposed to China, were the index’s worst-performing sector.

Apple
Inc.

sank 5.2% for the day, wiping out more than $48 billion worth of the iPhone maker’s market capitalization.

Energy stocks fell too, pulled down by a 3.4% drop in Brent crude futures. Oil producers

Hess
Corp.

,

Marathon Oil
Corp.

and

Diamondback Energy
Inc.

all dropped more than 5%.

Tyson Foods
Inc.

bucked the trend as its Class A shares jumped 5.1%. The biggest U.S. meat company disclosed that it had received a subpoena from the Justice Department, amid a federal investigation into pricing in the chicken industry. But investors focused more on rising profits and better-than-expected earnings.

The Arkansas-based company reported an adjusted profit of $1.47 a share for the quarter ended June 29, 2 cents more than what analysts were looking for. And despite the trade spat with Beijing, Tyson and other U.S. meat producers have benefited from investors’ expectations that they may step up sales to China, whose hog population has been devastated by African swine fever.

Investors found some relief in precious metals, which have rallied as investors flocked to safe-haven assets. Colorado-based gold-mining giant

Newmont Goldcorp
Corp.

climbed 1.4%. Its Toronto-based rival

Barrick Gold
Corp.

gained 4%. Gold futures rose 1.3% to $1,464.60 a troy ounce on Monday, their highest settle in more than six years.

Wood-products manufacturer

Boise Cascade
Co.

surged 5.9% after reporting earnings. The Idaho-based company’s profits in the last quarter fell from a year ago, but not as much as analysts had expected. Lumber prices have slumped since 2018, and home building, a key driver for the company, has been soft. Yet the company said it has made progress with its engineered-wood-products division, helping to stabilize its earnings during periods of low lumber prices.

Some gun makers had gains. Counterintuitively, shares of such companies often pick up after mass shootings, as fears of new gun regulations prompt firearm collectors to make new purchases.

American Outdoor Brands
Corp.

, formerly named Smith & Wesson, rose 2.2% on Monday after mass shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend left at least 31 dead.

Vista Outdoor
Inc.,

which sells ammunition as well as gear for golfers and other outdoor sports enthusiasts, rose 2%.

Write to Alexander Osipovich at alexander.osipovich@dowjones.com

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