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This story originally appeared on MarketBeat
The old adage “the best defense is a good offense” can be applied to the stock market, particularly when equities are hitting lower prices with every passing day as the corrective phase continues. While it’s not easy to be aggressive during a sharp pullback, adding shares of companies with defensive qualities can be a strong approach given how they tend to hold up well in almost any market environment. What’s also attractive about these types of stocks is that they often pay dividends, deliver consistent earnings, and have products and services that are in demand in almost any economy.
While we don’t know exactly when the market is going to the bottom, it’s fair to say that low-beta stocks can be an attractive place to park some capital until the dust settles. That’s why we’ve put together the following list of 3 defensive dividend stocks to buy now. Let’s take a deeper look at these companies below.
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First up is General Mills, which is one of the largest packaged food manufacturers in the world and the perfect example of a consumer staples company with defensive qualities. Well-known brands like Cheerios, Yoplait, Pillsbury, Progresso, and more fly off of the shelves on a consistent basis, which means that General Mills has consistent cash flows to support its attractive dividend. The company has also been diversifying its business model with acquisitions and boosting its e-commerce capabilities, which are additional positive factors for investors to consider.
It’s also worth mentioning that General Mills is in the pet food business with its premium pet food products brand called Blue Buffalo and could see strong growth from that business segment going forward, especially when you consider how many new pet owners there are after the pandemic. Finally, the company saw its net sales increase by 4% in Q1 to $4.5 billion and reaffirmed its full-year fiscal 2022 outlook, which is great to see in such an uncertain economy. With a 3.36% dividend yield and defensive qualities in a difficult market, General Mills is absolutely worth a look at at this time.
Federal Agriculture Mortgage Corp (NYSE: AGM)
Agriculture stocks have been showing a lot of strength during the recent market pullback, and that includes Federal Agriculture Mortage Corp. Also known as Farmer Mac, this is a stockholder-owned, federally chartered corporation that provides a secondary market for a range of loans made to borrowers in the agriculture industry. The corporation’s segments include Farm & Ranch, USDA Guarantees, Rural Utilities, and institutional credit, and it plays a key role in providing financial solutions to agricultural lenders, agribusinesses, and other institutions.
What’s nice about this stock is that it currently offers a 3.2% dividend yield and is benefitting from rising agricultural commodity prices, as crops like corn and soybeans have been incredibly strong as of late. The company also recently reinstated a share repurchase program and has a history of significant dividend increases, which is what investors should be looking for in a defensive stock. Finally, Farmer Mac added $1.5 billion of gross business volume in Q2, which resulted in net growth of $334.6 million and could be in for a strong finish to the year. With the stock trading around its all-time highs, it’s certainly one to watch in the coming sessions.
I’ve featured Costco in previous articles and mentioned why it’s one of the best big-box retailers to own for the long-term, but it’s also a great dividend stock to consider for its defensive properties. With 817 massive membership warehouses located in countries all over the world, the fact that Costco provides so many essential consumer products like fresh food, sundries, and household goods at bargain prices means it will always generate substantial sales. Costco is truly a market-leading company that has developed a loyal customer base thanks to its low prices, and it’s worth noting that the stock has been holding up well during the recent market selloff.
While Costco only offers investors a 0.7% dividend yield at this time, the company has issued special dividend payments in the past and it wouldn’t be surprising to see that happen again. With the holiday season coming up, the company could have a record quarter in terms of sales, especially when you consider how Costco has been developing its e-commerce sales channel. With a 20% increase in EPS last quarter and global traffic steadily rising, there are plenty of positives to note here. The bottom line is that Costco is a fantastic dividend stock to consider adding in a weak tape, particularly since it has shown relative strength on the biggest down days in the indices.
Costco Wholesale is a part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks some of the largest publicly traded companies founded and run by entrepreneurs.