Although the market ended last Friday on a positive note, that might not be enough to dismiss the concept of defensive stocks to buy. Yes, CNBC reported that with the Dow Jones closing more than 100 points to kick off September, the index notched its best week since July. However, this is a marathon, not a one-off sprint.
Following some strong performances, post-pandemic, the Dow has been rather disappointing. Since the start of this year, the index only gained just over 5%. Further, major questions about economic stability warrant skepticism. Perhaps most notably, Americans’ credit card debt breached the ignominious $1 trillion level. Not surprisingly, many retailers report that consumers are pulling back off discretionary expenditures.
Another factor to consider is that home prices may be on the verge of cooling. But in the grand scheme of things, that might not be a great sign. Basically, consumers are tapped out, thus pointing to broader anxieties. With so many ambiguities to consider, your best bet may be with these defensive stocks to buy.
As a retail company specializing in home improvement, Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) is an ideal candidate for defensive stocks. Thanks to the colloquial phenomenon known as Murphy’s Law, no one can predict when circumstances go awry. However, whether that be a pipe breaking or a smoke detector going off in the wee hours of the morning, these incidents have a way of happening at the absolute wrong time.
For that, Lowe’s provides a readymade solution, whether via its retail stores or its delivery services. In addition, LOW can still potentially benefit from the Covid-19 outbreak. With the economic events tied to the crisis sparking a homebuying surge, it’s quite possible that the total addressable market for the retailer has increased. After all, homeownership means owning all the problems that materialize with your property.
Finally, Lowe’s carries a forward yield of 1.89%. Although not particularly generous, the company commands 50 years of consecutive dividend increases.
Northrop Grumman (NOC)
An aerospace and defense contractor, Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) may be controversial to some because of its underlying business. However, with geopolitical tensions skyrocketing across several regions, I don’t think investors can ignore the potential of NOC. No, we should not celebrate rising furor in the geopolitical space. At the same time, we can’t afford to be caught flatfooted regarding our national security profile.
On a more constructive note, Northrop also represents a viable play for defensive stocks to buy thanks to the space economy. Per its website, the company has invested heavily in making the space industry a viable one, including supporting NASA’s Artemis program. Therefore, NOC moves beyond just the defense component of its business.
Right now, the company carries a forward yield of 1.72%. That’s a bit lower than the industrial sector’s average yield of 2.36%. However, Northrop also commands 20 years of consecutive dividend increases.
Easily one of the best ideas for defensive stocks to buy, Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) is a clear beneficiary of the trade-down effect. It’s terribly cynical, just as a warning. However, during times of economic challenges, people might forego certain medical or dental procedures. Still, even with that being the case, very few will skimp out on Colgate-branded products.
Fundamentally, one of the easiest ways to care for yourself is to foster proper oral hygiene. Yes, it sounds like such a painfully obvious point, but that’s also the driving factor behind CL stock. People will avoid going to the dentist’s office for various reasons; mainly economic for some and for others, fear. But demand for Colgate should be relatively consistent.
Just as well, the company carries a forward yield of 2.62%. This stat runs a little bit higher than the consumer staples sector’s average yield of 1.89%. But the main takeaway has got to be its 61 years of consecutive dividend increases.
Although one of the more exciting technology plays thanks to its investments in artificial intelligence, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) also qualifies as one of the top defensive stocks to buy. From a quick glance at its financial profile, the tech giant benefits from consistent profitability. Also, it sports an impressive trailing-year operating margin of 41.77% and a net margin of 34.15%.
In other words, it’s a name you can trust, an important component of defensive stocks. Further, MSFT may continue to reward shareholders, even with it moving up over 37% since the January opener. Fundamentally, the underlying company’s AI initiatives are taking off like wildfire.
Regarding passive income, Microsoft is hardly what you call generous, printing a forward yield of 0.83%. Now, it has seen 20 years of dividend increases. And its payout ratio sits at 24.75%, which provides confidence in terms of yield sustainability. Lastly, analysts peg MSFT as a strong buy. Their average price target clocks in at $391.88, implying over 19% upside potential.
A multinational confectionary and food company, Mondelez (NASDAQ:MDLZ) also features a beverage business. Offering some of the most recognizable snack brands in the world, Mondelez offers a cynical play for defensive stocks. Moving forward, if the consumer economy continues to struggle against headwinds like inflation, MDLZ should benefit from steadily rising demand.
Now, I’m not suggesting that MDLZ will skyrocket like a cryptocurrency. But with retailers reporting that shoppers are becoming choosier about their expenditures – going for discounted items or bundled products – it’s reasonably clear that the trade-down phenomenon is at work. People still want to spend, as various retail reports demonstrate. They just want to do so prudently.
While not immensely generous, Mondelez offers a forward yield of 2.44%. That’s above the consumer staples sector’s yield of 1.89%. Also, the payout ratio is quite reasonable at 48.2%. Thus, stakeholders don’t have to worry much about the sustainability of the yield.
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)
Arguably a no-brainer for defensive stocks to buy, Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM) is a multinational food processing and commodities trading firm. Per its public profile, Archer Daniels operates more than 270 plants and 420 crop procurement facilities worldwide. To be fair, geopolitical flashpoints have put pressure on commodities vital to the global food supply chain. As a result, ADM slipped 11% since the January opener.
At the same time, Archer Daniels benefits from predictability. As investment data aggregator Gurufocus points out, the company is consistently profitable. On a per-share basis, its three-year revenue growth rate comes in at 16.4%, above 76.74% of its peers. Eventually, under trying economic circumstances, people will focus primarily on the essentials. That should be great news for ADM.
As for passive income, Archer Daniels carries a forward yield of 2.26%. While not generous, the company commands 51 years of consecutive dividend increases. Very few companies can claim that, making ADM one of the top defensive stocks to consider.
Jack in the Box (JACK)
Although a discretionary play in the broader retail ecosystem, Jack in the Box (NASDAQ:JACK) could be intriguing for conservative contrarians. Yes, if the economy continues to encounter significant challenges, people will be tempted to cut out all discretionary spending. However, let’s be real. We’re talking about a country that has over $1 trillion in credit card debt. Will this citizenry cut spending to the bone?
I don’t want to turn this article into a clown show with commentary that fails to age well. However, the general trend toward household cutbacks involves trading down gradually, not cutting all at once. Since Jack in the Box offers a guilty pleasure via fast food, it could be an interesting idea. First, the company’s forward yield comes in at 2.14%. While that’s not high, the payout ratio sits at 25.71%, allowing stakeholders to sleep a bit easier. Second, analysts peg JACK as a consensus moderate buy with a $102.18 price target, implying over 24% upside potential.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.