Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.The Trump Reset, US Empire's Coming Economic, Cyber and Military War With China (2/2) - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Now Is the Time to Buy Gold - 5th Jan 17 - John Grandits
3.CIA Planning Rogue President Donald Trump Assassination? Elites "Manchurian Candidate" Plan B - Nadeem_Walayat
4.The Trump Reset - Regime Change, Russia the Over Hyped Fake News SuperPower (Part1) - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Most Popular Financial Markets Analysis of 2016 - Stock Market Crash Postponed Again - Nadeem_Walayat
6.No UK House Prices Brexit Crash 2016 Despite London Weakness, Forecast 2017 - Nadeem_Walayat
7.President Trump Understands the NSA, CIA... LIE, America's Intelligence Agencies Crime Syndicate! -Nadeem_Walayat
8.President Donald Trump's 2017 New Year Message, BBC Fake News, Was 2016 a Dream? - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Major Stocks Bear Market Still Looms - Zeal_LLC
10.Biased 2017 Forecasts - Debt, Housing and Stock Market (1/2) - James_Quinn
Last 7 days
HBO HOMELAND Bet on HIllary Clinton Winning US Election and LOST - 23rd Jan 17
Stock Market New Highs For 2017? Yes, But When Do I Enter? - 22nd Jan 17
Active vs Passive Investing: And the Winner Is ... - 22nd Jan 17
The Epidemic of Bad Ideas - 22nd Jan 17
Gold Futures Prices Looking Bullish - 22nd Jan 17
Time for Crude Oil Price Drop below $50? - 21st Jan 17
AI and Robotics - We Are All Low-Skilled Workers Now - 21st Jan 17
The Trump RESET Starts on US Presidential Inauguration Day 2017 - What to Expect - 20th Jan 17
Will the CIA Assassinate Rogue President Donald Trump Like JFK? - 19th Jan 17
Bonds, Dollar, Stocks, Gold, Silver Major Markets at Turning Points - 19th Jan 17
Populism; the Danger? What About Debt? - 19th Jan 17
Gold Price 50-DMA Breakout - 19th Jan 17
Turkey, 'Axis of Gold' and End of US Dollar Hegemony - 19th Jan 17
The Most Important Market Chart on the Planet - 19th Jan 17
Trump Deficits Will Be Huge - 19th Jan 17
Stock Market Trading Patience Pays Off with CHK Using Momentum Reversals - 19th Jan 17
Gold - How to "Buy Low and Sell High" Like a Pro - 19th Jan 17
State of the Global Stock, Financial and Commodity Markets Report 2017 - 19th Jan 17
The Hunt for Russia's Next Enemy - 18th Jan 17
Returning Gold Bulls - 18th Jan 17
Biotech Breakthrough Could Create A $11.4 Trillion Opportunity - 18th Jan 17
Bitcoin and Gold - Outlook, Volatility and Safe Haven Diversification - 17th Jan 17
Stock Market Uptrend on Borrowed Time - 17th Jan 17
The One Stock to Retire On - 17th Jan 17
Trump anti-Communist Counter Revolution - 17th Jan 17
US Stock Market Update as the Trump Inauguration Approaches - 17th Jan 17
The American Crisis - Common Sense 2017 - 17th Jan 17
Obama Leaves, Hope Arrives, Will Stupid Stay? - 17th Jan 17
Damage Inflicted by Precious Metals Manipulation Is in the “Multi Billions” - Keith Neumeyer - 17th Jan 17
Gold Price Forecast 2017 Update - Video - 17th Jan 17
The Story of the U.S. Regime Change Plan in the Philippines - 16th Jan 17
Gold Price 2017 Trending Towards $1375 as Forecast - 16th Jan 17
'Deep State' CIA Director States We are Not NAZI's, Warns Trump Does Not Understand Russian Threat - 15th Jan 17
UK House Prices Forecast 2017 - Crash or Bull Market? - Video - 15th Jan 17
SPX Stocks Bull Market Update - 14th Jan 17
President Trump vs the Deep State that Hides in Plain Sight - 14th Jan 17
The Impact of Sir Alex Ferguson's Retirement on Man United's Share Price - 14th Jan 17

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

State of Global Markets 2017 - Report

Defensive Stocks Are Failing Again As A Safe Haven!

Stock-Markets / Stock Markets 2012 Nov 16, 2012 - 03:25 PM GMT

By: Sy_Harding

Stock-Markets

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleIn times of uncertainty, and in preparation for market declines, Wall Street’s advice to investors is always the same.

The market cannot be ‘timed’, and cash does not pay enough interest to even keep up with inflation. So investors need to remain fully invested and continue to buy stocks, but can protect themselves by shifting to ‘defensive’ stocks and sectors.


The advice has always been the same.

No matter what happens to the economy people will still have to eat, drink, and take their medicines. So food, beverage, and drug companies will continue to do well in an economic or market downturn. And the stocks of utilities and other solid companies that pay high dividends will also do well since the dividends will help offset a decline in the stock prices.

They do not explain that although consumers will still have to eat, drink, and take their medicines, investors will not have to continue to value the earnings of those companies as highly as they did in a rising market. Stocks that sell at 20 times earnings in the excitement of a rising market may only sell for 12 times earnings by the time a correction has made investors more fearful. So even though a company’s earnings continue to rise, its stock will still be dragged down by the falling market.

The same holds true for the high dividend payers. They also do not escape the problem of investors not being willing to value their earnings as highly as they did in a rising market.

In fact, since defensive stocks and sectors are touted so heavily by Wall Street near market tops, driving their prices to more over-valued levels than other stocks, their subsequent declines often exceed the decline of the rest of the market.

It doesn’t take much research to check it out, but unfortunately most investors aren’t inclined to bother. However, that is my job, and here are the facts.

Utilities are traditionally among the highest dividend paying stocks. Yet the DJ Utilities Average plunged 60% in the 2000-2002 bear market, considerably more than the 50% decline of the S&P 500. And it plunged 48% in the 2007-2009 bear market, not much different than the 50% decline of the S&P 500.

In lesser corrections the degree of safety promised for high dividend paying stocks has been equally disappointing for those who accepted the theory.

In the summer correction of 2010 the S&P 500 declined 15%. The DJ Utilities Average declined 13%. So far in the current correction, the S&P 500 is down 7.8%. But the DJ Utilities Average is down 11.6%.

Likewise, the ten highest dividend-paying solid companies in the 30-stock Dow are down an average of 18.9% in the current correction, compared to the S&P 500 being down 7.8%.

You could say that high-dividend payers have an added incentive for selling in the current correction since one of the risks of the ‘fiscal cliff’ is that taxes on dividends might jump significantly. And that’s true. But those same ten stocks plunged an average of 65.3% in the 2000-2002 bear market, and an average of 55.4% in the 2007-2009 bear, much worse than the Dow and S&P 500.

Meanwhile, we’re seeing the same historical pattern for the ‘still gotta eat, drink, and take their meds’ stocks.

So far in the current pullback, while the S&P 500 is down 7.8%, the still gotta eat and drink category is holding up fairly well, although Coca Cola (KO) is down 10.2% and PepsiCo is down 7.3%.

But in the ‘still gotta take their meds’ category, while the S&P 500 is down 7.8%, most major drug-makers are down more. Abbott Labs (ABT) is down 12.4%, Bristol Myers (BMY) is down 14.8%, Eli Lilly (LLY) is down 14.6%, and Merck (MRK) is down 10.7%.

You can blame it on concerns about drug company profits under Obamacare. But just as the high-dividend paying stocks plunged right along with the rest of the market in the 2000-2002 and 2007-2009 bear markets, so too did the drug-makers. Abbott Labs, Bristol Myers, Eli Lilly, and Merck, plunged an average of 54.5% in the 2000-2002 bear market, and an average of 49.1% in the 2007-2009 bear.

Several conclusions could be drawn from that history.

The first is that there seems to be nothing to gain by repositioning into the so-called defensive stocks or sectors. In fact, by doing so one may come out the other side even more damaged than by holding onto current holdings.

Taking profits and moving to cash when risk is high would be a much better strategy, even though the cash would earn nothing, since one keeps the previous profits and can re-enter when the correction ends, rather than having huge losses and needing the next bull market just to get back to even.

And if the expected correction doesn’t materialize, the cost is only some lost opportunity for more gains, not the actual painful losses incurred by remaining fully invested and moving into so-called defensive stocks.

Another approach, which I prefer, is that the best defense is often a good offense.

For instance, an ‘inverse’ etf or mutual fund designed to move opposite to the S&P 500, like the Rydex Inverse S&P 500 fund (RYURX), or the ProShares Short S&P 500 etf (SH) will gain roughly 20% if the S&P declines 20%, more in larger corrections.

But regardless of what decision is made, it’s most important to realize that so-called ‘defensive stocks’ usually are not.

Sy Harding is president of Asset Management Research Corp., and editor of the free market blog Street Smart Post.

© 2012 Copyright Sy Harding- All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2016 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Catching a Falling Financial Knife