5 defensive shares to buy for 2016-17

Credit: Tax

The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) finished the 2016 financial year off in style on Thursday, but there remains a high level of uncertainty going into 2016-17.

There are also plenty of questions that remain unanswered:

What does Brexit mean for the UK and Europe?

What does it mean for Australia and the world economy?

What’s next for China and for global growth?

Will interest rates fall below 1.75%?

Of course, there are always uncertainties when it comes to investing, and those uncertainties can make things quite difficult for investors – particularly in the short-term.

While that can also create opportunity, it is also understandable that many investors will look for safer shares to invest in with more sustainable business models. A solid dividend yield would be a bonus.

One of the first companies that comes to mind is Burson Group Ltd (ASX: BAP), which provides many of the parts used in the repair and servicing of older vehicles. When times get tough, consumers tend to hold onto their older cars for longer which can lead to an uptick in demand for Burson’s products. Defensive as it may be, it also has the potential to continue growing strongly over the next few years.

Speaking of defensive businesses with growth prospects, Somnomed Limited (ASX: SOM) is another company you could consider adding to your portfolio. The company provides a treatment for sleep apnea, which is a potentially serious condition that needs to be treated no matter the state of the economy. The treatment is also somewhat less invasive and costly than those offered by various rivals, leaving plenty of room for SomnoMed to expand in the sector.

CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) is another business operating in the healthcare sector which is worth a closer look. The company has generated huge gains for investors over the years and, although its shares did climb as high as $117.61 earlier in the month, they have fallen back to $112.18. The shares still aren’t necessarily cheap, but it’s a high quality business and one that may be worth paying up for.

One company that needs no introduction is Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS). The king of fully franked dividends, the company also enjoys strong cash flows and customer loyalty. Even if the economy were to take a hit, I find it hard to imagine that people would choose to give up their mobile phone service or home/business internet.

Finally, Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Co. Ltd (ASX: SOL) is also worth your attention. The company is often compared to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway in that it is an investment conglomerate with an ultra-long term investment horizon which is run by a high-quality management team. Volatility could actually provide the business with some great buying opportunities which would likely benefit many of its long-term shareholders.

Indeed, successful share investing is as much about avoiding the losers as it is picking the big winners.

Click here now and you'll find a full rundown of 3 shares we think you should avoid today plus one top pick worth buying, even if the market turns south and the RBA keeps rates at an "emergency low." Simply click here to uncover these stocks.

The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman owns shares of Burson. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Burson. 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.

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