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As The Market Nears Its All-Time High, Should Investors Get Defensive? Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM), Kimberly Clark Corp (KMB)

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In October 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its all-time high of just over 14,000.  Unfortunately, most people know all too well what followed:  the Great Recession, which took the Dow down to less than 7,000.  The market’s performance since that time has been nothing short of spectacular.  Shares of America’s blue chips have more than doubled since the March 2009 lows.  The Dow is now only a few hundred points of breaching its all-time high again.  The question for many investors now is whether the market can sustain its run.  Conversely, perhaps the Dow has gone too far too quickly, and is now ripe for a decline.

The Truth is: Nobody Knows For Sure

Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOMUnfortunately, no investor has a crystal ball.  Despite what some would like to believe, no individual can predict the future.  I can’t pretend to know exactly which direction the market is headed.  The good news for me is that I don’t have to.  I strive to make investment decisions that I can live with no matter where the market goes.  To that end, as the market approaches its all-time highs, I’m looking for stocks that are defensive in nature.  As the market continues to climb, the stocks I’m interested in adding to my portfolio provide products that are purchased regardless of the prevailing market conditions.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is a $200 billion pharmaceutical giant.  The company has a diversified business line of medical devices, pharmaceutical medicines, and consumer products.  It has a wide variety of well-known consumer products including Band-Aids and Listerine.  In 2012, Johnson & Johnson raised its dividend for the 50th year in a row.  The stock trades at an attractive forward price-to-earnings ratio of 12 times and yields more than 3% at current prices.

Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) has the largest market capitalization in the world, which currently sits at over $400 billion.  For the first nine months of 2012, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) reported that revenues nudged up a little more than a half percent, and earnings per share were more than 16 percent higher as compared to a year ago.   In addition, the company raised its dividend in 2012 for the 30th consecutive year.  The current payout is a solid 2.5% yield at current prices, and the stock trades for a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of less than 10.  Furthermore, the financial position of ExxonMobil is extremely strong:  the long-term debt to equity ratio is a minuscule 5%.

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