ISA investors! 3 FTSE 250 safe-haven stocks I’d buy with my last £5k

Seeking safe havens in these uncertain times? Royston Wild talks about three top ISA lifeboats for investors, whatever their attitude to risk.

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Have some spare investment capital knocking around? Afraid to put that to use as the coronavirus crisis rolls on? Fear not. I reckon Hilton Food Group (LSE: HFG) is a brilliant buy for ISA investors in these uncertain times.

We will all need to continue eating whether a painful and prolonged recession is coming or not. This makes companies involved in getting food onto our plates, like packaging giant Hilton, one of the safest bets out there.

The FTSE 250 firm’s decision last month to maintain its dividend policy underlines its exceptional defensive qualities. Its sales outlook remains robust and it has a rock-solid balance sheet with plenty of cash on the books too. I’d happily buy Hilton despite its high price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple of above 25 times. It’s worth every penny in my book.

Defence star

Avon Rubber (LSE: AVON) makes respiratory protection and other equipment for the military, police and firefighters, as well as milking equipment for farmers. It’s another FTSE 250 share I’d happily buy for my ISA. Mankind’s attraction to conflict has been a consistent aspect of human history. The geopolitical and terrorist threats that have boosted defence spending over the past decade are arguably more pronounced now than they were 10 years ago too. Expect such spending by major Western nations to remain robust.

Sales data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute shows how military spending surged to multi-year peaks in 2019. There are signs emerging that defence expenditure will keep rising despite the costs of battling the coronavirus crisis in the near term and beyond too.

For example, the US Indo-Pacific Command last month submitted a plan to Congress that would boost its spending by $20.1bn during the five years to 2026.

Avon Rubber is a major supplier to the US armed forces and is thus in prime position to ride this environment. Its masks and body armour are in hot demand, and its recent acquisition of 3M’s ballistics business has reinforced its relationship with the Department of Defense still further.

The FTSE 250 company’s forward P/E ratio of around 27 times doesn’t make it look cheap. This, though, is a fair valuation given Avon’s exceptional sales outlook that its cutting-edge products provides. This is a share I’d happily buy for my own Stocks & Shares ISA.

Another ISA star

Share pickers seeking safe havens should also pay Dechra Pharmaceuticals (LSE: DPH) close attention today, I feel. Healthcare is one of the most defensive sectors out there. And this one allows investors to ride the booming animalcare market.

But it’s not just that spending on our companion animals should remain strong despite the upcoming recession. Dechra’s drugs are also widely used to help livestock producers. And so like Hilton Foods, our need to keep our bellies full provides this FTSE 250 share with strong earnings visibility too.

This share commands a prospective P/E ratio of 29 times. I don’t care, though. I’d happily buy it for my ISA during these tough times and hold it for many years to come.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

Royston Wild has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Avon Rubber. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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