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The 50 Safest Stocks in the Stock Market

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From a certain perspective, no stock is “safe.” Not safe in the sense that your initial investment is just one act of scandalous behavior by the company’s accountants or an unforeseen shift in the global economy away from being completely ruined. Thus is the nature of investing: there’s always at least some chance things will go horribly wrong. So, as compared to treasuries, savings accounts and the vast majority of bonds, there are no truly “safe” stocks.

However, that doesn’t mean all stocks are created the same. While even the safest stock is still a big risk when placed against a good savings account, there’s a cavernous divide in just how risky the shares of a Fortune 500-topping, blue-chip company sitting in your 401(k) are when compared to that penny stock you had never heard of until your brother-in-law assured you it’s the “next big thing.” And that divide starts to get all the more important when bad times appear to be on the horizon. When times are good and markets are booming, that hot new tech stock with lots of buzz might seem worth taking a shot on, even if the company hasn’t ever turned a profit. But when you’re in a bear market and your portfolio keeps hemorrhaging value, suddenly that boring old utility stock begins to look a lot more appealing.

So, what stocks are the least likely to lose you money? While there’s no sure-fire way of knowing, there are certain investment metrics you can look at to identify the most resilient, low-risk stocks. Here’s a closer look at some of those essential metrics as well as 50 of the safest stocks money can buy.

Last updated: March 12, 2020

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What Makes a Stock Safe?

There are a variety of different ways to classify a stock as “safe,” each of which can be more or less important depending on the times. However, for the purposes of this study, the stocks were identified using the stock screener from Finviz.com to filter out any of the following:

  • Foreign stocks
  • Stocks with an average analyst ranking that’s not at least a “buy”
  • Stocks with a market cap under $10 billion
  • Stocks with a P/B ratio over 3
  • Stocks with a P/C ratio over 100

You can read a full methodology with some explanation of what each of those factors mean after the list, but the short version is that these factors indicate all of the stocks included are of at least moderate size, aren’t priced excessively high for the value of their underlying assets and cash reserves and have received better-than-average marks from the analysts who specialize in the details of their business and industry.

From there, the study also removed “cyclical stocks.” These are stocks in industries that are reliant on the health of the economy as a whole, to be differentiated from “defensive stocks” that tend to have more consistent demand. So, automakers are usually viewed as very cyclical stocks, since passing on a new car is an easy way to tighten your belt in a recession. Defensive stocks, however, tend to focus on things people will still need to buy even when they’re cutting back — that is, consumers staples like food producers or utility companies. So, while most stocks take a hit during an economic slowdown, it’s usually much more limited compared to companies in more cyclical industries.

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Diamondback Energy Inc. (FANG)

  • Industry: Basic materials
  • Market cap: $4.70 billion
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Vistra Energy Corp. (VST)

  • Industry: Utilities
  • Market cap: $9.43 billion

Look: 25 Stocks That Every Retiree Should Own

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NiSource Inc. (NI)

  • Industry: Diversified utilities
  • Market cap: $10.90 billion
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Dentsply Sirona Inc. (XRAY)

  • Industry: Medical instruments and supplies
  • Market cap: $9.82 billion
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Elanco Animal Health Inc. (ELAN)

  • Industry: Drugs — generic
  • Market cap: $9.55 billion
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Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. (BIO)

  • Industry: Medical laboratories and research
  • Market cap: $10.99 billion
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Tradeweb Markets Inc. (TW)

  • Industry: Management services
  • Market cap: $11.16 billion
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CenterPoint Energy Inc. (CNP)

  • Industry: Gas utilities
  • Market cap: $9.40 billion
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Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (J)

  • Industry: Technical services
  • Market cap: $12.28 billion
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Discovery Inc. (DISCA)

  • Industry: CATV systems
  • Market cap: $12.71 billion
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Icahn Enterprises L.P. (IEP)

  • Industry: Conglomerates
  • Market cap: $12.51 billion

Pictured: Pep Boys is a subsidiary of Icahn.

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Atmos Energy Corp. (ATO)

  • Industry: Gas utilities
  • Market cap: $12.89 billion

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Conagra Brands Inc. (CAG)

  • Industry: Processed and packaged goods
  • Market cap: $13.56 billion

Pictured: Chef Boyardee is a brand sold by Conagra.

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ViacomCBS Inc. (VIAC)

  • Industry: Entertainment — diversified
  • Market cap: $12.85 billion
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Hess Corp. (HES)

  • Industry: Independent oil and gas
  • Market cap: $12.11 billion
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Baker Hughes Co. (BKR)

  • Industry: Technical services
  • Market cap: $14.19 billion
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Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LH)

  • Industry: Medical laboratories and research
  • Market cap: $16.61 billion
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Corning Inc. (GLW)

  • Industry: Diversified electronics
  • Market cap: $18.47 billion
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Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (PXD)

  • Industry: Independent oil and gas
  • Market cap: $13.23 billion
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Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ALXN)

  • Industry: Biotechnology
  • Market cap: $19.67 billion
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Formula One Group (FWONA)

  • Industry: Broadcasting — TV
  • Market cap: $7.17 billion
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The Kroger Co. (KR)

  • Industry: Grocery stores
  • Market cap: $25.69 billion
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PPL Corp. (PPL)

  • Industry: Electric utilities
  • Market cap: $22.90 billion
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Entergy Corp. (ETR)

  • Industry: Electric utilities
  • Market cap: $23.83 billion
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Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN)

  • Industry: Meat products
  • Market cap: $22.91 billion

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Valero Energy Corp. (VLO)

  • Industry: Oil and gas refining and marketing
  • Market cap: $24.74 billion

Also Read: If You Would Have Bought Only 100 Shares of These 10 Stocks, You Would Be Incredibly Rich

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Zimmer Biomet Holdings Inc. (ZBH)

  • Industry: Medical appliances and equipment
  • Market cap: $24.42 billion
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Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC)

  • Industry: Oil and gas refining and marketing
  • Market cap: $22.42 billion
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Centene Corp. (CNC)

  • Industry: Healthcare plans
  • Market cap: $35.42 billion
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Phillips 66 (PSX)

  • Industry: Oil and gas refining and marketing
  • Market cap: $27.84 billion
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EOG Resources Inc. (EOG)

  • Industry: Independent oil and gas
  • Market cap: $24.21 billion
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DuPont de Nemours Inc. (DD)

  • Industry: Agricultural chemicals
  • Market cap: $28.19 billion
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Schlumberger Limited (SLB)

  • Industry: Oil and gas equipment and services
  • Market cap: $25.25 billion
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L3Harris Technologies Inc. (LHX)

  • Industry: Communication equipment
  • Market cap: $42.54 billion
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Exelon Corp. (EXC)

  • Industry: Diversified utilities
  • Market cap: $42.01 billion
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ConocoPhillips (COP)

  • Industry: Independent oil and gas
  • Market cap: $37.71 billion

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Global Payments Inc. (GPN)

  • Industry: Business services
  • Market cap: $54.46 billion
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Micron Technology Inc. (MU)

  • Industry: Semiconductor memory chips
  • Market cap: $53.17 billion
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Anthem Inc. (ANTM)

  • Industry: Healthcare plans
  • Market cap: $72.18 billion
Nattakorn Maneerat / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Cigna Corp. (CI)

  • Industry: Healthcare plans
  • Market cap: $73.44 billion
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T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS)

  • Industry: Wireless communications
  • Market cap: $72.82 billion
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Mondelez International Inc. (MDLZ)

  • Industry: Confectioners
  • Market cap: $78.68 billion
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CVS Health Corp. (CVS)

  • Industry: Healthcare plans
  • Market cap: $81.64 billion
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Fidelity National Information Services Inc. (FIS)

  • Industry: Information technology services
  • Market cap: $86.84 billion
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Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY)

  • Industry: Drug manufacturers — major
  • Market cap: $130.78 billion
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Medtronic PLC (MDT)

  • Industry: Medical appliances and equipment
  • Market cap: $129.14 billion
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Chevron Corp. (CVX)

  • Industry: Major integrated oil and gas
  • Market cap: $159.71 billion
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Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)

  • Industry: Entertainment — diversified
  • Market cap: $178.02 billion
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The Walt Disney Co. (DIS)

  • Industry: Entertainment — diversified
  • Market cap: $201.23 billion

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AT&T Inc. (T)

  • Industry: Telecom Services — domestic
  • Market cap: $263.38 billion

All market cap figures are accurate as of market close on March 10, 2020.

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What Is P/B ratio?

P/B ratio, aka price-to-book ratio, simply shows how much money each share costs divided by how much book value per share the company has. This gives investors a better sense of how much of the price of a share is represented by those tangible assets. A company’s “book value” — also known as its “accounting value” — is the value of everything tangible that a company owns. So, if you’re looking at a company like Coca-Cola, its book value would include all of its bottling plants and buildings, any aluminum they might have purchased in advance to turn into cans, any stock currently sitting in their warehouses, trucks — pretty much all of it. But, intellectual property — like the value of Coke’s brand, for instance — has no book value.

You have to be careful when looking at book value as it will tend to dramatically undervalue something like a software company, where you can have a lot of success without ever accumulating a lot of book value. However, some people will view a company’s P/B ratio as important because those tangible assets have a clear value even if the company completely tanks. The base value of things like vehicles or real estate aren’t going to dramatically rise and fall depending on the company’s performance, so they can be viewed as a little bit more stable.

Related: Should Stock Market Futures Be Your Trading Future?

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What Is P/C Ratio?

This is the same basic concept as the P/B ratio, but the “price-to-cash” ratio looks at how much cash is on hand as compared to the price of a share. While the assets that make up most of a company’s book value are tangible and will hold their value on many occasions, cash is even better. Not only will your cash not lose value just because your company is struggling, but cash on hand can allow a company to be more flexible in dealing with adversity — not unlike how an emergency fund can help you navigate unemployment or a large, unexpected expense. As such, companies with lower P/C ratios have more cash on hand relative to their share price.

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What Is Market Cap?

Market cap — short for market capitalization — is the market value of a company, determined by adding up the total value of all the outstanding stock. It’s an easy way to compare how valuable the entire company is based on how much the share price is at the moment. Generally speaking, the larger a company’s market cap, the more stable it is on the market. Gains tend to be smaller, but losses are also much smaller, so larger companies tend to offer a little bit more safety than their smaller counterparts.

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Methodology: Using the stock screener offered on Finviz.com, the study filtered stocks to remove any that weren’t based in the United States, had a market cap under $10 billion and had a P/B ratio under 3. That turned up a list of 141 different stocks. Then, the study removed any stocks with a P/C ratio over 100, reducing the list to just 102 stocks. From there, the researcher removed any stocks in traditionally “cyclical” industries per their discretion, further reducing the list to 52 companies, of which the two with the lowest market cap were discarded. Market cap figures were sourced from Yahoo Finance on March 10, 2020.