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Home Depot (
HD) may seem like a surprising choice for a defensive portfolio. After all, it's got hefty exposure to housing, an industry that's been staging a shaky recovery in recent years. But looking at the numbers, Home Depot has actually been a defensive name in the last half-decade.
A big part of Home Depot's resilience comes from the fact that most of the bearish downside scenarios for home improvement retailers never panned out. Instead, when property values dropped around the country, homeowners turned to one of Home Depot's 2,250 stores to build equity through smaller scale projects. While Home Depot itself was overextended as a result of the real estate boom, the firm was quick to restructure itself in the wake of the housing market crash, and it avoided much of the market's downside as a result. Going forward, the firm should be able to avoid repeating history while growing its geographic footprint more cautiously.
Latin American growth looks attractive for Home Depot right now -- more so than the firm's failed foray into China. While the exit from China was a setback, the firm's tiny exposure to the People's Republic meant that the financial impact was minuscule. A 2% dividend payout and a historically-higher bull-market beta makes HD a solid defensive holding right now.