• 2022-08-11 08:22:32
  • by Frank Conwell

10 defensive stocks that can also provide you with growth and dividends over the long term

Professional money managers have a strong preference for one stock sector in particular, along with cash dividends. A group of 100 institutional money managers surveyed by S&P Global Market Intelligence favours the healthcare sector and dividend stocks for defensive allocation. The S&P 500 Index has rallied 10% since June 22 from a deep decline, but there are different schools of thought about whether investors are out of the woods yet. Mark Hulbert has called the recent action a bear-market rally, setting the stage for the stock market to resume its slide. Meanwhile, analysts at BlackRock recommend investors lean toward defensive stocks. One way to do that is to focus on the healthcare sector. This is generally considered a defensive group of stocks — after all, the population is ageing, innovation creates new treatments and medical attention is not an option for most people. A screen of health-care-sector stocks in the S&P 500 SPX, +2.13% is below. On Aug. 8, S&P Global Market Intelligence published results of a survey of money managers who oversee about $845 billion of investors’ money. This group of about 100 institutional investors remains “risk averse,” according to S&P Global, which went so far as to say that its Global Investment Manager Index indicated “overall sentiment” had its lowest point in the survey’s history.

Here’s how the surveyed managers felt about the 11 stock sectors:

Health care is institutional investors’ favourite sector, and it is the fourth-best performer this year among the 11 sectors of the S&P 500. It also performed well during the bull market, ranking third for five years and 10 years through 2021 According to the S&P Global survey report, money managers have also been placing a greater emphasis on cash dividends as part of defensive allocation strategies. Screening healthcare dividend payers One way to invest in the health-care sector is with an exchange-traded fund for broad exposure, such as the Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund XLV, +1.09%, which tracks the entire S&P 500 health-care sector, or with a more narrowly focused ETF, such as the iShares U.S. Healthcare Providers ETF IHF, +1.25%. One way to do this is to look at free cash flow estimates for the next 12 months and divide those by current share prices for an estimated free cash flow yield. If the FCF yield is above the current dividend yield, a company appears to have “headroom” to increase the payout or use the extra generated free cash for other activities that might benefit shareholders, such as stock buybacks, expansion or acquisitions.

  • user

    Frank Conwell

    If you wish for individual stock exposure in the health space and agree with the institutional investors’ preference for companies paying dividends, it might be helpful to see which companies are expected to generate enough free cash flow to support their dividends and increase them easily.

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