2 Defensive Stocks to Protect Your Portfolio Through 2023

As we leave behind a forgettable year, one thing is certain -- the Federal Reserve is still on the offensive. This means that a high-interest rate environment will accompany us throughout 2023 as the Fed tries to constrict the economy and tame inflation. This is making investors nervous about a recession, which is now a question of 'when' rather than 'if.' Such a predicament calls for keeping your portfolio safe with stocks that are relatively safe from inflationary and recessionary environments. To that end, here are two such defensive stocks-- UnitedHealth ( The company expects to generate $324 billion this year, in line with the Street consensus. This will be about 12.6% higher than the previous year's sales. Meanwhile, the company's Even though long-term debt of $45.4 billion outpaced cash and short-term investments of $42.5 billion, the cash was enough to fulfill short-term obligations of $3.2 billion as of September 30, 2022. This keeps the company well-capitalized to invest in growth activities. The cost-optimization plan included the reduction of its global real estate footprint. The program is on track to be completed by 2023 and achieve net cost savings of about $900 million by the end of 2023.Is MRK a Buy or Sell?Cantor Fitzgerald analyst The analyst emphasized that Merck is her top pick in the area of large-cap pharma, reiterating a Buy rating on the stock with a price target of $135. The average price target of $114.8 indicates an upside of 4.11% over the next 12 months.The TakeawayEvery market downturn has unique challenges. However, there was very little left to comprehend in the great bear market of 2022. Inflation, high borrowing rates, war, a pandemic, -- you name it, and 2022 experienced it. I say the companies that could grow through the rubble left behind by the year can survive the largely-predictable recession of 2023. As dominant names in the healthcare sector, UnitedHealth and Merck are well-positioned to uphold shareholder value through 2023 and beyond.Disclosure