11 Defensive Stocks to Buy Now for Harder Times Later

The best time to buy defensive stocks is before you need them. Here are 11 picks to buy now to prepare yourself for an eventual patch of turbulence.

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Why would you hunt down the best stocks to buy now for a downturn when the markets are at all-time highs?

The current bull market – currently fueled by cheap money from the Federal Reserve, another stimulus plan and, most importantly, the hopes that some day in the nebulous future, we'll have COVID under control – is going to end. Every bull market does.

That's not why, however. That end, which would occur with a 20% decline from a market peak, could be a long time coming. The reason why is that even a mere correction, which is a decline of between 10% to 20%, would be enough to rack up sizable losses and shake investor confidence. And several market watchers see the potential for a correction in the coming months.

"Overall, we still believe U.S. equities in general remain vulnerable to a bigger correction than we have experienced thus far- and that this could materialize in Q1 or Q2 with upwards of a -10-15% repricing off the recent highs," says Dan Wantrobski, technical strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

"The message from market sentiment and positioning indicators is that equities are ripe for a correction," adds BCA Research.

Naturally, it's better to have an escape plan before you need it. So if at some point the "hopium" disappears, you'll want to be exposed to more defensive stocks – companies that sell vital goods and services, have reliable earnings and, where possible, pay dividends. Almost everything is overvalued now, but these kinds of stocks should hold their value better in a downturn than the rest of the market.

Read on as we discuss 11 of the best stocks to buy now if you want to add some protection against future turbulence. Three specific areas of the market stand out right now: digital infrastructure stocks, healthcare providers and consumer staples stocks – all areas of the market that will be in demand no matter what happens over the next few months.


Data is as of Feb. 4. Dividend yields are calculated by annualizing the most recent payout and dividing by the share price.

Dana Blankenhorn
Contributing Writer, Kiplinger.com
Dana Blankenhorn has been a business and technology journalist since 1978. His work has appeared in newspapers including the Chicago Tribune and magazines such as Interactive Age. But he has spent most of his career online, spotting future trends in over a dozen beats from e-commerce to open source, and from renewable energy to blockchain, working for such publishers as TheRegister.com, ZDNet, InvestorPlace, TheStreet.com and Yahoo Finance.