BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- There's blood in the water this week. That's the explanation for the second-biggest selloff of the summer yesterday, a decline that shoved the S&P 500 down 1.5% on Tuesday and touched 2% lower on the Nasdaq Composite.
Investor anxiety has been the overarching thread across the markets for the last few months, so it's not surprising that we're seeing stocks give something back in August. The fact is, we're still very much in a rallying market right now -- just 4.5% off from all-time highs as I write.
That's a correction, not a crash.But it still makes sense to go defensive with cash-rich stocks right now. Not just to avoid losses as the market corrects -- but also to triple your gains on the way up. >>5 Stocks Warren Buffett Is Buying in 2013 You don't have to take my word for it; over the last decade, the top tier of cash-rich stocks worldwide generated total returns of 297%. That's triple what the S&P earned over the same period. Yes, cash is still king this year. Part of that stellar outperformance has to do with what cash enables companies to do. Capital gains are great, but historically speaking, the majority of portfolio growth comes from other sources. Dividends, share buybacks and debt repurchases all inject value directly into your shares, and on a year-to-year basis, they also account for around 50% of annual stock performance. Only companies with cash that have the wherewithal to boost those payouts on command. In short, cash provides options. Firms with cash can opt to increase shareholder value by paying a dividend or initiating a share buyback. Plus, they have the ability to take advantage of pricey M&A opportunities and internal investments. >>5 Hated Earnings Stocks You Should Love Lots of companies have big cash positions right now. In fact, more than 25% of the S&P 500's valuation is made up of the record cash holdings on corporate balance sheets. That means that it pays to be a little more selective with which companies you consider cash-rich. To do that, we'll focus on firms that fit the tight set of quantitative criteria that beat the S&P by a factor of three. Today, we'll take a look at five of them.