NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With valuations on the expensive side and earnings slowing due to a strengthening dollar, now is the time to get defensive and own sectors like health care, said Michael Ball, portfolio manager fo Weatherstone Capital Management.
"The demographics remain quite positive. When we look at the cash flows that have been moving into health care, it's remained consistent for quite some time," said Ball.
Health care had the strongest earnings and revenue growth in the first quarter among the 10 major sectors and Ball expects that outperformance to continue for the rest of the year. He said the increase in M&A activity among health care companies is a positive sign, particularly in the drug industry, which has exceeded 20% of the total M&A volume for the past two quarters.
Ball said the Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) is a good way to gain exposure to the sector. The VHT is up 11% year to date and over 27% in the past 12 months.
In a different area of defense, Ball is bullish on the Purefunds Cybersecurity ETF (HACK), which is up 23% so far in 2015. HACK was launched last November and has quickly amassed over $760 million in assets primarily in names like FireEye (FEYE), CyberArk Software (CYBR) and Infoblox (BLOX).
"As we see some of these big name hacks in terms of corporations and even the federal government it does tend to bring increased awareness to the area and pushes more money in there," said Ball.
In order to add some income to your portfolio, Ball recommends the PowerShares Preferred Stock ETF (PGX), which yields close to 6% and is down around 1% year to date. "If a person is looking for income and trying to be a bit more defensive this is a way to generate a pretty reasonable rate of return without taking on some of the regular stock market risk," said Ball.
Finally, Ball said those seeking safety should try the Pimco Enhanced Short Maturity (MINT), which invests primarily in short-term investment-grade debt.
"You are picking up three quarters of a percent in terms of yield, the portfolio has a nice credit quality to it, it's primarily investment grade and very short term so it's going to have a very minimal impact if interest rates increase over time and it has good liquidity," said Ball.