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10 Top-Rated Defensive Stocks

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Stocks tumbled yesterday as existing U.S. home sales dropped 27%. Here are 10 stocks in industries that typically withstand economic weakness. Although no company is immune to a downturn, food products, defense, tobacco and household products companies are best-suited to weather slow growth. The following stocks receive "buy" ratings from at least 70% of analysts covering their stocks. They are ordered by aggregate rating.

10. Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG - Get Report) sells lawn and garden care products. Fiscal third-quarter profit increased 19% to $176 million, or $2.59 a share, as revenue inched up 0.6%. The operating margin rose from 21% to 23%. Scotts has $79 million of cash and $690 million of debt, equaling a quick ratio of 0.8 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.8. Its stock trades at a PEG ratio, a measure of value relative to predicted long-run growth, of 0.3, a 70% discount to estimated fair value. Roughly 70% of analysts rate the stock "buy." A median target of $56.62 suggests a 17% return.

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