Bernstein analyst Callum Elliott upgraded the rating on the shares of Kimberly-Clark Corporation (KMB  ) and Clorox Company (CLX  ) to Market-perform from Underperform.

At the start of the year, the analyst had urged caution towards the Consumer Staples sector despite the benign fundamental outlook. However, the analyst said, over the past few months, the relative premium of Staples versus the market has rapidly unwound.

In the analyst's view, the relative de-rating was both necessary, given the egregious starting valuations and fully merited by the upwards move in interest rates.

However, it has left Staples trading broadly-in line with the market as a whole, comfortably below their long-term average premium, noted the analyst.

If interest rates continue to rise, the relative valuation of staples could certainly continue to compress, but the probability of a recession presumably rises, and as such risks to cyclical earnings rise in tandem, added the analyst.

Kimberly-Clark, the analyst said, has delivered solid fundamental performance this year. Yet the stock has under-performed by 23% year-to-date.

This leaves the stock now trading on 17x estimated 2024 earnings, close to its 10-year trough, added the analyst, prompting a downward target price division to $118 from $125.

Clorox stock is down 22% over the past six weeks, under-performing the market by 19%, driven by the cyber-attack from which CLX suffered in mid-August, said the analyst.

The analyst expects 1Q results in November to bring further bad news, with management likely to kitchen-sink FY24 guidance.

The analyst believes risk-reward for the staples group looks less negative as of now than it has over most of the past few years and added that the upgrade justifies significant incremental downside to either name.

Price Action: KMB shares are trading higher by 0.53% at $119.98 and CLX shares are down by 1.78% at $120.18 on the last check Thursday.