If there was ever a reason to consider defensive stocks to buy, House Republicans gave one of the most compelling. After 15 rounds of voting amid deep divisions in the conservative party, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California finally won the election as the new House Speaker. Of course, the matter could not have been more contentious. After what the New York Times called “a spectacle of arm-twisting,” McCarthy finally reached the endzone.
But what does this mean for everyday individuals, particularly investors? Although the electoral process for House Speaker now entered the rearview mirror, it’s possible that the real challenges lie ahead. After all, if certain hardline Republicans display such cantankerousness toward their fellow GOP members, how will they cooperate with Democrats? Probably, the answer is not well, which is where defensive stocks to buy come in.
Effectively, these tradable equities represent relatively safer, more reliable enterprises. After such volatility in what should have been a slam dunk, investors must think conservatively, ironically enough. Therefore, below are the defensive stocks to buy amid the acrimony.
|PG||Procter & Gamble||$152.04|
|CWT||California Water Service||$61.04|
|IBM||International Business Machines||$143.55|
Procter & Gamble (PG)
While Kevin McCarthy may have had to engage in much arm-twisting to win the gavel, it’s likely that his fellow Republicans won’t put up that much of a fuss about cleaning up after themselves. At least, I hope not. Fundamentally, that’s why Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) brings many relevancies as one of the defensive stocks to buy.
From a political angle, we all need the products that PG provides, no matter our ideologies. From toilet paper to oral care to fabric management, the company represents a staple in common household goods. Technically, the term here would be inelastic demand. Irrespective of pricing pressures, people will purchase a certain amount of necessary items.
Currently, Wall Street analysts peg PG as a consensus moderate buy. Basically, the company is inoffensive. Though it’s not particularly undervalued, the company features an excellent return on equity at over 32%. This stat indicates a superior capacity to convert equity financing into profits, a dynamic that commands a premium right now.
Another apolitical enterprise, McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) rises above the Washington muck because let’s face it: everyone (not literally but you get my drift) loves fast food. According to one survey, 32% of people ate fast food because it was cheap. With economic headwinds pressuring consumer sentiment, you must imagine that this stat will likely increase. Cynically, that’s going to benefit MCD as one of the defensive stocks to buy.
Aside from getting our kids addicted to products not necessarily great for them, McDonald’s represents another inoffensive investment. That’s part of the reason why Wall Street analysts rate MCD as a consensus strong buy. Out of 21 experts, 18 of them individually rate it a buy, with three holds. Further, the average price target pings at $287.27, symbolizing about 6.6% upside potential.
No, you’re not going to get too excited about 6% or 7% upside. But do keep in mind that the Golden Arches pays a forward yield of 2.31%. And it’s been raising its dividend on an annual basis consecutively over the past 46 years. For defensive stocks to buy, it may not get much better.
In some regards, I suppose you can say that Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) carries political vulnerabilities. Back in the 2016 presidential election campaign trail, then-real estate mogul Donald Trump sang the praises of Caterpillar. At the time, CAT “enjoyed” (if you want to call it that) some relevance because of the border wall narrative.
Moving forward in this contentious environment, it’s doubtful that Republicans will be particularly thrilled with Democrats regarding infrastructure spending. So, CAT does carry some fundamental risk relative to other defensive stocks to buy. At the same time, Caterpillar is an American icon. And like it or not, Republicans must engage Democrats because conservatives put their constituents through the wringer.
You might even say that the Washington machinery owes us, the American people. It’s time to get every politician back to work. On paper, Gurufocus.com might say that Caterpillar pings as mundane, with its proprietary calculations labeling CAT as fairly valued. However, it does command a blisteringly high ROE of over 45%, reflecting an extremely high-quality business.
Few market segments put investors to sleep quite like the insurance industry. However, for defensive stocks to buy amid political turmoil and economic uncertainty, you’re in good hands with Allstate (NYSE:ALL). Well, at least, that’s what the statistics bear out.
According to data compiled by federal government agencies, road fatalities during the coronavirus pandemic increased. Further, the American Psychological Association reports that traffic deaths continue to plague our roadways even after the global health crisis. Obviously, owning auto insurance doesn’t provide physical protection. But for survivable accidents, Allstate coverage can help prevent devastating financial damage.
Also, on a broader note, it’s possible that most folks – Republican, Democrat, or anything in between – recognize the need for greater coverage. We now understand that anything can happen. In the long run, this framework can boost ALL.
Objectively, the market prices Allstate shares at 0.75 times sales, which rates as undervalued. For comparison, the sector median value is 0.99 times. Therefore, ALL makes for a solid idea among defensive stocks to buy.
California Water Service (CWT)
To provide some background on the new House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy serves California’s 23rd district. Originally, he hails from Bakersfield, California, which brings us to California Water Service (NYSE:CWT). A public utility that provides drinking water and wastewater services, California Water covers many regions, including McCarthy’s hometown. That’s my tip of the hat for his perseverance.
Fundamentally, practically every fiscally sound utility deserves a look for defensive stocks to buy. Again, enterprises like California Water benefit from inelastic demand. I’d also argue that it’s completely insulated from the trade-down effect. That’s where consumers keep trading down the quality chain of their purchases before they reach an acceptable equilibrium.
However, giant public utilities usually don’t offer such alternative routes. You either pay or you have no power or water. In the modern age, losing such resources represents a death sentence. To be fair, CWT is incredibly boring, even for defensive stocks to buy. However, the company owns a track record of increasing dividends annually over the past 55 years. As well, its payout ratio of 46.1% reflects the high reliability of the underlying passive income.
During tumultuous times, whether that stems from political vitriol or economic uncertainty (or in this case, probably both), you can’t get any more relevant than Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL). No matter what goes on with the rest of society, people must brush their teeth. From a cynical perspective, hard times may boost Colgate’s sales at the expense of dentist’s office visits.
In early 2022, the Washington Post discussed the anxieties that Americans felt as they returned for dental care. Of course, in this case, fears of Covid-19 infection dissuaded people from medically related clinics unless absolutely necessary. However, in 2023 and beyond, economic headwinds may prevent folks from professional care.
Still, that’s not going to prevent them from cleaning their teeth – they’ll just do it on their own. Currently, covering analysts rate Colgate as a consensus moderate buy. Also, hedge funds have kept their position in CL relatively stable. As with many other defensive stocks to buy, Colgate features strong numbers for ROE and also return on asset. If you can handle the boredom, CL can keep you steered in the right direction.
Generally speaking, defensive stocks to buy don’t typically include names from the technology sector. Although powerful and innovative, tech tends to be volatile during periods of uncertainty. We all saw this play out last year. However, I’m going to make an exception for IBM (NYSE:IBM). Basically, IBM is a boring enterprise in an exciting enterprise – and I mean that in the best way possible.
For years, Big Blue depended on hardware segments which suffered fading relevance for a bit too long. Fortunately, the company got its act together, moving aggressively into compelling segments such as cloud computing. Now, it’s more focused on what works and less on what doesn’t. Better yet, the wider transition paid off. In the trailing year, IBM gained more than 6%. For context, the S&P 500 index slipped nearly 17%.
Moreover, IBM rates as objectively cheap. Currently, the market prices IBM at just under 15-times forward earnings. In contrast, the sector median is 24 times. Finally, Big Blue features a fairly big dividend with a forward yield of 4.68%.
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.