It’s fair to say that over the past month markets around the world have made it clear how investors feel about the possibility of Brexit. Volatility has been the name of the game for investors since the beginning of June, and it’s clear that if the UK does vote to leave the EU on 23 June, volatility will prevail for many months or even years to come. With so much uncertainty ahead, the best option for many investors could be to hunker down, buy defensive stocks with a global reach and ride out the storm.

Unilever (LSE: ULVR) is one such defensive company. Indeed, Unilever’s claim to fame is that on any given day 2bn people will use the company’s products around the world, a huge user base that’s unlikely to be affected if the UK votes to leave the EU. What’s more, as the world’s population grows it’s reasonable to assume that Unilever’s customer base is growing at the same rate. How long will it be before 3bn people around the world use the company’s products on a given day?

That being said, Unilever’s management has warned that Brexit will negatively impact the company. However, it’s likely this will have a short-term effect on the operational side the business (something that can be worked out over time), rather than on long-term sales growth. 

Shares in Unilever trade at a forward P/E of 20.9 and support a dividend yield of 3.2%.

Global customer base

Like Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser (LSE: RB) also has huge a global customer base that’s unlikely to stop buying the company’s products in the event of Brexit. In fact, despite the economic gloom that’s currently prevailing in the global economy, Reckitt is already on track to smash growth expectations this year. First quarter figures showed a 7% year-on-year increase in revenue, beating the 4.4% median estimate of analysts. The company also announced estimate-beating full-year profit and forecast further growth in 2016. 

Shares in Reckitt currently trade at a forward P/E of 23.6 and support a dividend yield of 2.2%.

Have a drink 

Lastly, alcohol sales are unlikely to dive following a vote to leave the EU, which makes Diageo (LSE: DGE) a very attractive potential investment. The company owns some of the most valuable alcohol brands in the world, such as Smirnoff Vodka and Johnnie Walker whisky. The company makes a significant chunk of its sales in emerging markets, which insulates it from any developments in the UK or even Europe.

While Diageo has run into some troubles over the past few years and earnings per share have fallen by around 10% since 2013, City analysts expect the group to return to growth next year. For the year ending 30 June 2017, analysts have pencilled-in earnings per share growth of 8%. Shares in Diageo currently trade at a forward P/E of 18.6 and support a dividend yield of 3.2%.

Evaluate the risks

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Rupert Hargreaves has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Unilever. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Diageo and Reckitt Benckiser. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.