Building A Defensive Portfolio For Uncertain Times
I frequently wonder how we will look back on this period a decade from now. I am often reminded that when a financial crisis begins to unfold, it’s hard to assess the impact until well after the fact.
The dot-com crash that started in 2000 and the subprime mortgage crisis that started in 2007 played out over several years. The S&P 500 recorded three consecutive double-digit losses from 2000 through 2002. Then after a weak 2007, the index dropped nearly 40% in 2008.
I was an investor through these events, and you just didn’t know on a day-to-day basis how bad things would turn out. You could only pinpoint the start and end of these crises with a couple of years of hindsight.
There will be more financial crises. The next one may have begun. The ongoing coronavirus outbreak is still spreading, and if the current trends continue, it could spur the next financial crisis.
The outbreak has already put the oil markets back into a bear market. It has also hit other sectors pretty hard. Numerous companies have issued earnings warnings as a result of the outbreak.
Investors are flocking to defensive sectors like utilities, which now represents the best-performing S&P 500 sector so far this year. With the surge in utilities this year, there really aren’t a lot of bargains left in that space. As investors have flooded into utilities, yields have become depressed.
Other defensive sectors like real estate and consumer staples have also performed well. The health care sector, also historically viewed as a defensive sector, has lagged.
With the uncertainty in the market, I decided to screen for a model defensive income portfolio for investors. I looked for stocks from defensive sectors, with a yield of at least 4%, low volatility, a dividend payout for the last quarter of less than 80%, and at least a consensus overweight rating from analysts.
I came up with the following 10 companies.
This is a diverse group of defensive companies, with a yield averaging 5.0%. The volatility of the group, as measured by the five-year beta, is nearly 40% lower than the S&P 500 Index.
Consider these “interesting” companies to research in greater depth for adding to or building a defensive portfolio.
As always, you have to determine whether these companies are right for your own portfolio. You may have slightly different preferences and you should always do your own due diligence.
But here’s hoping we all stay healthy this year, that coronavirus cases begin to decline soon, and there is a little bit of life left in the bull market.
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Jimmy Butts is chief investment strategist of the premium trading service Top Stock Advisor. He’s skilled at pinpointing hidden gems that possess intrinsic merits. These stocks are ignored by Wall Street but they eventually enrich early investors.
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