What are Defensive Stocks?

Investors face various risks when investing in the stock market. Some of these risks may be inherent to the stock in which they invest. Others may apply to the stock market as a whole or even the economy. These risks can significantly impact the returns they can get. While stock-specific risks are diversifiable, investors can’t do the same for stocks that suffer due to market or economic risks. Investors can, however, invest in defensive stocks.

What are Defensive Stocks?

As mentioned, some stocks take a hit due to the market or economic conditions that apply to stock markets. Defensive stocks are shares of companies whose performance does not suffer due to these conditions. In other words, defensive stocks include stocks that demonstrate stable performance in any economic or market condition.

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Another name used for defensive stocks is non-cyclical stocks, which is the opposite of cyclical stocks. Cyclical stocks suffer due to changes in a nation’s economic activity. However, non-cyclical stocks usually illustrate minimum or no reaction to fluctuations in economic conditions. Due to this feature, defensive stocks provide stable returns or dividends.

How do Defensive Stocks work?

When the economic conditions in a nation change, the stock market also flourishes or takes a hit. During economic booms, stocks show positive movements. In contrast, recessions can cause adverse fluctuations. Nonetheless, any movements can be critical for investors. While they can provide high rewards, these also carry substantial risks.

When investors cannot predict a nation’s economic conditions, they may choose to invest in defensive stocks. These stocks usually come from companies or sectors that provide essential items. Since consumers are likely to continue consuming these items, these stocks rarely suffer. Therefore, regardless of the economic conditions in a nation, these companies perform stably.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Defensive Stocks?

Defensive stocks have various advantages and disadvantages for investors. The most critical of its benefits include the stability it brings to an investor’s portfolio. This stability comes due to the lower risks that defensive stocks carry. For risk-averse investors, these stocks can be attractive. During periods of economic decline, defensive stocks can outperform the market. They also provide stable dividends, which investors prefer in uncertain conditions.

However, when it comes to economic expansions, defensive stocks show below-average performance. Due to how stable these stocks are, they carry lower growth. On top of that, they offer significantly lower capital gains. During economic booms, consumers may also prefer consuming luxury items. This preference can impact how these companies perform. Therefore, defensive stocks may underperform during economic booms.

How can investors identify Defensive Stocks?

Identifying defensive stocks may require investors to analyze various stocks and consider several factors. There are several characteristics that defensive stocks demonstrate. Usually, investors can identify these stocks by obtaining and analyzing historical data. Usually, companies that have a stable history offer defensive stocks to investors.

On top of that, most well-established companies provide defensive stocks. Companies that offer growing or constant dividends are stable. Therefore, investors can invest in these to obtain defensive stocks. Furthermore, investors can analyze a stock’s beta coefficient to identify these stocks. A low beta coefficient carries lower risks and, therefore, can provide defensive stocks.


Defensive stocks represent stocks that don’t suffer due to fluctuations in economic conditions. These stocks usually come from companies that offer essential products or services. Defensive stocks come with various advantages, which primarily include lower risks. However, they can also have drawbacks. There are several factors that investors consider when identifying defensive stocks.

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