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Are these the ultimate safety shares for a turbulent 2017?

Photo: Diageo: Fair use

Although the implications of Brexit may consign the days of stratospheric house price growth to history, I believe homebuilders like Persimmon (LSE: PSN) remain some of the safest destinations for investors next year and beyond.

The City is expecting conditions to become tougher in 2017, and an unusual 4% earnings decline is expected at Persimmon next year. Latest British Bankers Association data certainly underlined the recent moderation in housebuyer appetite, the body revealing a 9% year-on-year fall in mortgage approvals in November.

However, a shortage of properties coming onto the market should keep the supply/demand imbalance in business and stop home values collapsing, in my opinion. Indeed, IHS Markit chief economist Howard Archer said last week that he expects prices to remain flat in 2017. And this makes the likes of Persimmon a more secure bet than many FTSE-listed shares, in my opinion.

While, of course, Persimmon’s projections can be downgraded at any time, the firm’s P/E rating of just 9.4 times suggests that any near-term risks are baked in at current prices. And I reckon the probability of Britain’s housing shortage lasting long into the distance makes the construction giant a sterling long-term selection.

Raise a glass

I’m convinced the exceptional brand power of Diageo’s (LSE: DGE) drinks should see it weather any downturn in consumer spending power.

But the evergreen popularity of labels like Johnnie Walker whisky and Guinness stout isn’t the only string to the alcohol giant’s bow; indeed, those seeking exposure to the world’s strongest economy should certainly consider snapping up Diageo’s shares.

Data last week showed US consumer confidence leaping to its highest since 2001 in December, according to the Conference Board. Diageo sources more than a third of total sales from North America, and revenues are likely to keep leaping as economic growth there clicks through the gears.

Diageo is expected to enjoy a 16% earnings jump in the period to June 2017 as massive investment in marketing and product development across its key labels powers global demand. And while this reading results in a slightly-elevated P/E ratio of 20.1 times, I reckon the likelihood of strong and prolonged growth marks Diageo out as a brilliant pick even at current prices.

Drugs deity

Of course the complex nature of drugs development means there’s no guarantee that GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) will prove a winner for stock selectors in the new year. However, I believe the Brentford firm’s position as a critical medicines provider all over the world provides it with a sunny outlook for 2017 and beyond.

On top of this, the pharma giant has a better record than many of its peers, a quality that generated £1.21bn worth of new drug sales between July and September alone. And GlaxoSmithKline has around 40 products in development that it hopes to power sales through the next decade.

The number crunchers certainly have great faith in its ever-improving pipeline, and expect the business to follow a 33% earnings jump in 2016 with a 10% advance this year. I reckon a prospective P/E ratio is a bargain given the company’s stellar earnings prospects.

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