Certain stocks, often referred to as "defensive" ones, can maintain their performance during good and bad times. Some even increase in value during economic slumps. A good bit of overlap exists between types of stock, and many companies' stocks can fit into numerous categories. Those that do can also be a smart buy when other stocks are doing poorly.
"Blue chip" stocks are issued by well-established companies that have a long history of positive cash flow, growth and stability, leading to reliable dividend payments for investors. Because of this deep-rooted dependability, investors know any losses will probably be regained once the market recovers. They are more likely to hold on to these stocks during poor economic times instead of selling them. This helps keep the stock value high. Examples in this category include General Electric, Exxon-Mobile Coca-Cola, Kraft, Microsoft and IBM.
Income stocks are mostly found in conventionally stable sectors such as finance, energy, natural resources, food and other commodities. Often, these companies have a long, positive history and have reached level growth, so they don't need to put as much profit into capital investment. As a result, they are able to place a larger percentage of profit into shareholder dividends. These stocks are usually less volatile than other categories and the yield is usually higher, making them a suitable source of relatively steady income.
The demand for low-cost services, clothing, food and other goods goes up during rough economic times. Stocks issued by companies that concentrate on these areas often do well even when other stocks aren't. Companies such as Wal-Mart, Costco and McDonald's are good examples of stocks that often increase in value as finances decline.
Consumables such as toothpaste, soap, toilet paper and cleaning products are necessary no matter what state the economy is in, making these kinds of stock less susceptible to large fluctuations. For this reason, shares distributed by consumer staple companies such as Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and Colgate-Palmolive often outperform other stocks in an iffy market.
People will always need health care, so you can usually count on pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, private hospital and insurance company stock to be more resistant to market drops. Stocks issued by companies such as Kimberly-Clark, 3M and CVS Caremark tend to maintain value in a down market.
Lauren Treadwell studied finance at Western Governors University and is an associate of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. Treadwell provides content to a number of prominent organizations, including Wise Bread, FindLaw and Discover Financial. As a high school student, she offered financial literacy lessons to fellow students.