If there has been one lesson drummed into investors since the global financial crisis (GFC) it’s probably been that the concept of a “blue-chip” portfolio and a “set-and-forget” mentality can be hazardous to one’s wealth.

However, it’s not unusual or uncommon to see a company with a small market capitalisation sink by 50% or more and one of the main reasons why many investors choose to own very large, established companies is to avoid exactly this type of volatility.

Indeed, the fact that smaller companies have a higher risk of “wiping out”, is a major factor why investors concentrate on the strongest companies listed on the ASX.

In theory, it’s a sensible strategy for conservatively positioned portfolios, particularly for those reliant on income from their portfolio to cover living costs.

However, the recent past has highlighted that not all so-called “blue-chips” are really blue chip.

Take, for example, BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP). The share price is down 57% in the past five years and the most recent dividend was sliced from around 80 cents per share (cps) to just 21 cps.

Likewise, the share price of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) has fallen by nearly 20% in the last 12 months – compared with a fall of just over 3% in the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO). Its last interim dividend was reduced to 80 cps from 86 cps in the prior corresponding period.

So what stocks could investors consider owning if they’re after large, industry leading companies that offer defensive positioning for their portfolio?

Here are four to consider:

Lend Lease Group (ASX: LLC) – market capitalisation nearing $8 billion. Lend Lease is expected to grow its earnings and dividends over the next couple of years and offers investors exposure to property and infrastructure projects around the world.

ResMed Inc. (CHESS) (ASX: RMD) – market capitalisation of around $11.5 billion. While the market has been a little spooked by growth rates from ResMed, the company remains a global leader in its market niche.

CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) – market capitalisation approximately $54 billion thanks to a record high share price. CSL is a global leader in the manufacture and supply of a vast array of treatments for diseases.

Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) – market capitalisation of $68 billion. In my opinion, Telstra is rightly considered a blue chip company given the entrenched and large customer base that provide reliable cash flows.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.