Buying FTSE 100 shares after the index’s recent market crash could be a risky move in the short run. The stock market could experience a further downturn in the coming months as the financial impact of coronavirus becomes known.
As such, buying companies with relatively stable track records of financial performance could be a shrewd move. They may provide lower risks than many of the index’s members during what is likely to be a period of lower growth for the world economy.
With that in mind, here are two companies that have previously offered defensive characteristics. Buying them now in an ISA for the long run could lead to impressive returns. And those returns could be less dependent on the performance of the wider economy.
Pharmaceutical company GSK (LSE: GSK) could deliver relatively resilient financial performance over the medium term. Its recent quarterly update showed that it was able to produce revenue growth of 19%. This included a 44% rise in sales within its consumer healthcare division, as well as a 19% rise in vaccine sales.
This rate of growth may not be maintained. As stock building was prevalent during the period, its divisions are likely to be less reliant on the wider economic outlook than for many of its FTSE 100 peers.
As such, GSK was able to maintain its guidance for full-year earnings. It is also set to continue paying dividends. This could broaden its appeal to income investors at a time when many FTSE 100 companies are deciding to reduce their shareholder payouts. Its yield of 4.9% could prove to be highly attractive during what looks set to be a sustained period of low interest rates.
In terms of its growth potential, the company’s planned split into two separate businesses could lead to improving financial prospects as they benefit from greater efficiency over the coming years.
FTSE 100 tobacco company Imperial Brands
Another FTSE 100 company that could offer a relatively defensive business model is Imperial Brands (LSE: IMB). Its recent half-year results highlighted its increased focus on tobacco markets, where it has been able to improve its market share. Tobacco sales could prove to be relatively robust over the coming months, with their potential for price increases likely to offset volume declines.
Next-generation products have proved to be a disappointment for Imperial Brands in recent months. It reported a 43% decline in their revenue in the first six months of the year, and they continue to represent a modest portion of the company’s total revenue.
However, with a likely shift in strategy under a new CEO and plans to reduce its debt level, the company could offer improving financial prospects. Its dividend yield of 10%+ suggests that it could offer a wide margin of safety at the present time.
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Peter Stephens owns shares of GlaxoSmithKline and Imperial Brands. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended GlaxoSmithKline. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Imperial Brands. 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.