An Unlikely Hero For Your Portfolio

Daniel Cross - Contributor - Equities

The markets have been anything but predictable just a few weeks into 2016 and investors are wondering if we're on the verge of a major bearish reversal or it's a temporary correction. Oil seems to go lower and lower despite with no sign of stopping anytime soon while the economy is still reeling from the loss of Chinese demand and the impact of the first Federal Reserve rate hike. For investors, there's no better time to start getting defensive.

When uncertainty reigns in financial markets, certain sectors become safe havens. Companies that offer products that are used regardless of the state of the economy like healthcare and consumer staples tend to outperform during these times. These types of stocks generally carry a dividend yield as well which helps protect investors from downside movements.

The consumer staples sector is particularly attractive in the very beginning of a possible bear market because it's historically provided relatively high returns with low volatility. While most investors think of this sector as “boring” filled with plain vanilla stocks and companies, it's actually one of the highest returning sectors in the market regardless of economic direction.

Annualized returns by sector from 1962 to 2015 revealed that consumer staples generated gains of 12.9% – trailing just slightly behind healthcare. From a volatility standpoint, consumer staples had the second lowest with utilities being the least volatile. Continue reading "An Unlikely Hero For Your Portfolio"