5 Best Defensive Stocks To Invest In 2015

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images WASHINGTON — A measure of U.S. home prices rose only slightly in September from August, a sign that prices are leveling off after big gains earlier this year. Real estate provider CoreLogic said Tuesday that home prices increased 0.2 percent in September from the previous month. That’s sharply lower than the 0.9 percent month-over-month gain in August and the 1.8 percent increase in July. Prices still rose 12 percent in September compared with a year ago. Higher mortgage rates and prices slowed home sales in September. As a result, price gains have cooled off. Mortgage rates are still very low. And the average rate on a 30-year fixed loan has fallen to 4.1 percent in the past month, down from a two-year high of nearly 4.6 percent over the summer. “This deceleration is natural and should help keep market fundamentals in balance over the longer-term,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. Many economists expect the housing market to keep improving, though with slower gains in home sales. Still, the spike in rates over the summer has weighed on the market. A measure of signed contracts to buy homes fell 5.6 percent in September to the lowest level in nine months. There is generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale. The sharp drop in September suggests final sales will decline in the coming months. The annual price gains are widespread, according to CoreLogic. Prices rose in all 50 states and in all 100 of the largest U.S. metro areas. Prices jumped 25.3 percent in Nevada from a year earlier, the most in any state. California (22.5 percent), Arizona (14.6 percent), Georgia (14.4 percent) and Michigan (13.9 percent) reported the next highest gains. Home prices are still about 17 percent below the peak reached in April 2006, according to CoreLogic.

5 Best Defensive Stocks To Invest In 2015: Oriental Financial Group Inc.(OFG)

Oriental Financial Group Inc., a financial holding company, provides various banking and financial services to mid and high net worth individuals, and families, including professionals and owners of small and mid-sized businesses primarily in Puerto Rico. It operates in three segments: Banking, Wealth Management, and Treasury. The Banking segment offers commercial and consumer lending, saving and time deposit products, financial planning, and corporate and individual trust services. It also provides mortgage lending products that include the origination and purchase of residential mortgage loans. As of October 25, 2011, this segment operated 30 branches in Puerto Rico. The Wealth Management segment offers securities brokerage, trust services, retirement planning, insurance, pension administration, and other wealth management services. Its securities brokerage services include various investment alternatives, such as tax-advantaged fixed income securities, mutual funds, sto cks, and bonds to retail and institutional clients. This segment also provides public offerings and private placements of debt and equity securities, underwriting, and merger and acquisition and financial restructuring advisory services. In addition, it engages in insurance agency services and administration of retirement plans in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean. The Treasury segment is involved in various treasury related functions with an investment portfolio consisting of mortgage-backed securities, obligations of U.S. government sponsored agencies, Puerto Rico government and agency obligations, structured credit investments, and money market instruments. The company was founded in 1964 and is based in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    The third recommended multinational is another Puerto Rican bank, OFG Bancorp (NYSE: OFG). A recent dividend increase could indicate a share buyback for next year. The bank raised its EPS guidance in every quarter of 2013. This small cap bank closed at $16.82 on Friday in a 52-week range of $12.86 to $19.33. The Sterne Agee price target on the stock is $23.00, yielding a potential upside of almost 79%. The EPS estimate for 2014 is $2.05 and the stock’s forward multiple for 2014 is a low 8.3 from the firm while the consensus multiple is 9.45.

  • [By Marc Bastow]

    Diversified financial services company OFG Bancorp (OFG) raised its quarterly dividend 33% to 8 cents per share, payable on Jan. to shareholders of record as of Dec. 31.
    OFG Dividend Yield: 1.8%

5 Best Defensive Stocks To Invest In 2015: Hovnanian Enterprises Inc (HOV)

Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc. (Hovnanian), incorporated in 1967, designs, constructs, markets, and sells single-family detached homes, attached townhomes and condominiums, mid-rise condominiums, urban infill and active adult homes in planned residential developments. The Company consists of two distinct operations: homebuilding and financial services. Its homebuilding operations consist of six segments: Northeast,including New Jersey and Pennsylvania; Mid-Atlantic, including Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C; Midwest, including Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio; Southeast, including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina; Southwest, including Arizona and Texas, and West, including California. Its financial services operations provide mortgage loans and title services to the customers of its homebuilding operations. During fiscal year ended October 31, 2011 (fiscal 2011), the Company had delivered 4,216 homes.

As of October 31, 2011, the Company was, excluding unconsolidated joint ventures, offering homes for sale in 192 communities in 37 markets in 16 states throughout the United States. It markets and builds homes for first-time buyers, first-time and second-time move-up buyers, luxury buyers, active adult buyers and empty nesters. It offers a product range to provide housing to a range of customers. Its diverse product array includes single-family detached homes, attached townhomes and condominiums, mid-rise condominiums, urban infill and active adult homes.

The Company’s residential development activities include site planning and engineering, obtaining environmental and other regulatory approvals and constructing roads, sewer, water, and drainage facilities, recreational facilities and other amenities and marketing and selling homes. These activities are performed by its associates, together with independent architects, consultants, and contractors.

The Company sells its homes to customers who finance their purchases th! rough mortgages. It originates loans in Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Bloomberg]

    Gene J. Puskar/AP Purchases of previously owned homes in the U.S. declined in February to the lowest level since July 2012, a sign the industry may be slow to recover. Contract closings on existing properties fell 0.4 percent to a 4.6 million annual rate, matching the median projection in a Bloomberg survey, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed Thursday in Washington. Prices rose 9.1 percent from a year earlier, the group said. The slowdown in housing since the middle of last year reflects a pickup in borrowing costs, declining affordability, limited job growth and, more recently, bad weather. At the same time, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday that more household formation will allow the real-estate market to strengthen. “It may take some time to get sales back on track after the weather effect,” Tom Simons, an economist at Jefferies in New York, said before the report. “Home sales will keep growing this year though maybe not at the pace we saw last year. Rising mortgage rates are a modest negative for demand.” Estimates in the Bloomberg survey of economists ranged from 4.5 million to 4.76 million. The prior month’s pace was unrevised at 4.62 million. Stocks declined, sending equities to a second day of losses, after Yellen signaled Wednesday that interest rates may rise by the middle of next year. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) dropped 0.1 percent to 1,859.18 at 10:05 a.m. in New York. Jobless Claims Another report Thursday showed the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits held last week near the lowest level in almost four months, a sign the labor market continues to strengthen. Jobless claims increased by 5,000 to 320,000 in the week ended March 15. The median price of an existing home rose from February 2013, to $189,000, Thursday’s report showed. Sales of home priced $250,000 and less declined, while those selling for more increased. First-time buyers accounted for 2

  • [By Bloomberg]

    Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images Housing starts in the U.S. were little changed in February after declining less than previously estimated a month earlier, indicating the home-building industry is stabilizing after bad winter weather curbed construction. The 0.2 percent decrease to 907,000 homes at an annualized rate last month followed a revised 909,000 pace in January, figures from the Commerce Department in Washington showed Tuesday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey called for a 910,000 rate after a previously reported 880,000 in January. Warmer temperatures, a pickup in demand during the spring selling season and limited housing supply may help fuel further gains in new residential construction. The outlook for the industry later this year depends on whether hiring picks up enough to overcome higher mortgage rates and home prices. “We will see improvement as the year goes on and weather improves,” said David Sloan, a senior economist at 4cast in New York and the top-ranked forecaster of starts in the last two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “The pace of increase will be fairly moderate. It suggests we’re going to get respectable economic growth, but maybe not a strong acceleration.” Estimates of 82 economists surveyed by Bloomberg ranged from 792,000 to 986,000. The February pace was the slowest in four months. Another report showed consumer prices rose 0.1 percent in February for a second month, according to the Labor Department. More than half the increase was due to higher food costs. Stock-index futures held earlier gains after the figures, with the contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index maturing in June rising 0.4 percent to 1,857.4 at 8:43 a.m. in New York. Building Permits Permits filed for future projects increased 7.7 percent to a 1.02 million pace in February, the most since October and reflecting a surge in applications for apartment-building construction. One-family home-building permits

  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool’s director of investment planning, looks at recent data from RealtyTrac noting that 9.3 million homeowners remain underwater on their homes by at least 25%. Dan points out how even a big rise in prices and efforts from JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) , Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC  ) to agree to modify customer mortgages haven’t made a huge dent in those numbers. Dan notes that big problems exist in hard-hit states like Nevada and Florida, causing potential problems for Hovnanian (NYSE: HOV  ) , PulteGroup (NYSE: PHM  ) , and other homebuilders seeking to recover from the worst of the crisis. 

  • [By Erika Janowicz]

    Compass Point analyst Wilkes Graham updated his housing forecast:

    Graham increased assumed ROI’s to 9% on average from 7%. Reduced targeted sector price/ book from $190% to 170%. Expects 20-30% growth in starts and new home sales in 2012 and 2013 to stabilize in 2014 and on at approximately 10%. For covered builders, the analyst lowered estimates by 8% and lowered price targets by 10%. Compass Point expects 10% annual growth in single family starts and new home sales and 2-5% pricing growth. Downgraded DR Horton Inc. (NYSE: DHI) from Buy to Neutral and KB Home (NYSE: KBH) from Neutral to Sell. DR Horton’s and KB Home’s PT was lowered from $23.50 to $20.00 and from $17.50 to $14.00, respectively. Graham reiterated a Buy rating on Ryland Group Inc. (NYSE: RYL) and Standard Pacific Corp. (NYSE: SPF). The analyst raised the PT on Ryland from $50.00 to $50.50 and lowered the PT on Standard Pacific from $10.00 to $9.50. Compass Point reiterated a Neutral rating on Beazer Homes USA Inc. (NYSE: BZH), Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: HOV), Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN), PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE: PHM), and Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL). The price target for Beazer and Hovnanian was raised from $15.50 to $24.00 and $5.00 to $5.75, respectively. Graham lowered the PT for Lennar, Pulte, and Toll to $34.50, $17.00, and $31.00.

    This Week’s Data

5 Best Defensive Stocks To Invest In 2015: Ellie Mae Inc (ELLI)

Ellie Mae, Inc., incorporated October 14, 2007, is a provider of on-demand automation solutions for the mortgage industry. The Company offers an end-to-end solution, delivered using a Software-as-a-Service model that serves as the core operating system for mortgage originators and spans customer relationship management, loan origination and business management. It also hosts the Ellie Mae Network that allows Encompass users to electronically conduct business transactions with the lenders and settlement service providers they work with to process and fund loans. The Company’s offerings include range of Encompass services and the DataTrac mortgage management software system. On August 15, 2011, it completed the acquisition of Del Mar Datatrac,Inc. (DMD).

Using the Company’s network technology, it has helped connect a fragmented world of mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers, community banks, credit unions, lenders, investors and service providers, all of which ar e integral to the origination and funding of residential mortgages. Its Encompass360 solutions include Encompass Product & Pricing Service; Ellie Mae Total Quality Loan Program; Encompass Compliance Service; Encompass Appraisal Service; Encompass CenterWise; Encompass Commissions; Encompass TPO WebCenter and Encompass Docs Solution.

Ellie Mae’s Total Quality Loan program helps in identifying compliance, income and fraud issues early in the origination process; help protect business from loan buy-backs, and fortify workflow and uncover and correct possible issues before you close the loan.Encompass Appraisal Service, integrated inside Encompass360, is that solution helps in completing order right from the loan file in Encompass360; import complete appraisal reports directly into eFolder, and customize appraisal workflow by type of loan and control, which its users can order appraisals. Its Encompass CenterWise wraps two essential Web and electronic document sol utions into one unified package. Encompass Commissions is a ! commission management solution integrated inside Encompass360 that automates the calculation, reconciliation and communication of variable pay across your organization. Hosted Encompass360 Banker Edition users can connect directly with third-party originators (TPOs) without leaving Encompass360, and have them connect back in a secure, synchronized, and easy-to-use Web-based environment. Encompass Docs Solution provides a single, integrated application incorporating both initial disclosures and closing documents.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By John Kell and Lauren Pollock var popups = dojo.query(“.socialByline .popC”); ]

    Ellie Mae Inc.(ELLI) on Monday confirmed there wasn’t a breach of customer data in a recent outage and that the outage wasn’t the result of a malicious attack.

  • [By Charley Blaine]

    Equities Trading DOWN
    Shares of Ellie Mae (NYSE: ELLI), which operates an electronic mortgage origination network, were down 18.27 percent to $23.62, after the company reported a weaker-than-expected Q3 profit. Ellie Mae also signed a definitive agreement to buy MortgageCEO.

5 Best Defensive Stocks To Invest In 2015: Danone SA (DANOY)

Danone SA, incorporated on February 2, 1899, is a France-based company engaged in food processing activities. The Company operates in four business lines, including Fresh Dairy Products, Waters, Baby Nutrition and Medical Nutrition. The Fresh Dairy Products business line’s brands are Danone, Actimel, Activia, Danacol and Vitalinea. The Water business line offers brands, such as Evian, Volvic, Aqua, Bonafont, Font Vella and Lanjaron. The Baby Nutrition business line include Bledina, Gallia, Nutricia, Cow & Gate, Milupa, Mellin and Dumex brands. Medical nutrition business includes Nutricia, Nutrini, Nutrison, Fortimel, FortiCare, Fortisip, Neocate and Infatrini brands. As of December 31, 2009, the Company acquired Danone Clover and a 26.85% interest in Micropharma. In December 2010, the Company and Unimilk announced the finalization of the merger of their Fresh Dairy Product businesses.

In Europe the Company’s main markets are France, Spain, Germany, Italy, the Benelux countries, the United Kingdom, Poland and Russia. The Company’s product Actimel, the probiotic dairy product, if consumed daily, helps to strengthen the organism’s natural defenses. The Waters business line includes activities focused on natural or flavored mineral water and on fruit-flavored or tea drinks, with a positioning concerned with health benefits. The Company’s baby nutrition business line’s activities consist mainly of producing food for newborns and babies (infant milk formula, follow-on milk, and growing up milk). It also offers a diverse range of products for

children aged 6 to 36 months. Specially developed and clinically tested formulas have also been developed for babies suffering from milk protein intolerance. The Medical Nutrition business line develops nutritional products adapted to specific needs, namely those of hospitalized patients, in order to prevent malnutrition and to improve its consumers daily life.

The Co mpany competes with Nestle, PepsiCo, Coca-cola, Abbott, Mead! Johnson and Fresenius.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Jamal Carnette]

    More than just Os
    The American public’s seemingly insatiable desire for lean protein in an “on-the-go” form will help General Mills going forward. They have a strong brand with the controlling acquisition of Yoplait, but have yet to parlay that brand recognition to rival Groupe Danone’s (NASDAQOTH: DANOY  ) Dannon brand, and privately held Chobani’s lock on the “Greek Yogurt Craze.” I’d encourage management to make this a priority; matter of fact, I’d consider this a microcosm of management’s execution effectiveness. I’m willing to give this some time to materialize, because the company has executed so well over the last couple of years from both an operations and capital allocation standpoint.

  • [By Jeff Reeves]

    Take the widely held Fidelity Worldwide Fund (FWWFX), which has 30% of its assets invested in Europe. Holdings include Swiss bank UBS (UBS), German automaker Volkswagen (VLKAY) and French food and consumer products giant Danone (DANOY).

5 Best Defensive Stocks To Invest In 2015: Vmware Inc.(VMW)

VMware, Inc. provides virtualization and virtualization-based cloud infrastructure solutions in the United States and internationally. The company?s products address planned and unplanned downtime management, system recoverability and reliability, backup and recovery, resource provisioning and management, capacity and performance management, and security issues. Its cloud infrastructure products and technologies include VMware vSphere, which is a data center platform that also enables live migration of actively running virtual machines across servers or storage locations without disruption or downtime; enables availability for all applications against hardware and operating system failures; and enables centralized point of control for cluster-level networking, as well as automatically manages the placement and balancing of a virtual machine across storage resources. The company also offers cloud application platform solutions that help organizations build, run, and manage enterprise applications in public, private, or hybrid clouds optimized for vSphere. In addition, it provides end-user computing solutions, which provide secure access to applications and data from various devices and location, as well as serves the corporate IT departments through managing and connecting end-user assets delivering them as a managed service. The company?s end-user computing solutions also provide the ability to manage software as a service, Windows, Mobile, or enterprise applications, as well as enhance communication and collaboration between end users. Further, it provides a range of professional services, such as consulting, education, and technical account manager services, as well as customer support services. The company sells its products through distributors, resellers, system vendors, and systems integrators. VMware, Inc. was incorporated in 1998 and is headquartered in Palo Alto, California. VMware, Inc. operates as a subsidiary of EMC Corporation. < /p> Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Jake L’Ecuyer]

    Equities Trading DOWN
    Shares of VMware (NYSE: VMW) were 8.77 percent to $95.93 after the company reported Q1 results. Vmware reported earnings of $0.80 per share on revenue of $1.36 billion.

  • [By Jake L’Ecuyer]

    Equities Trading DOWN
    Shares of VMware (NYSE: VMW) were 9.93 percent to $94.71 after the company reported Q1 results. Vmware reported earnings of $0.80 per share on revenue of $1.36 billion.

  • [By Rex Crum]

    VMware Inc. (VMW) , which was set to report quarterly results after the close of trading Tuesday, rose 31 cents a share to close at $105.15.

  • [By Roberto Pedone]

     

    Another potential earnings short-squeeze candidate is VMware (VMW), which provides virtualization infrastructure solutions in the U.S. and internationally. VMware is set to release numbers on Tuesday after the market close. Wall Street analysts, on average, expect the company to report revenue of $1.35 billion on earnings of 79 cents per share.

     

     

    Just recently, CLSA upgraded shares of VMware to outperform on expectations the company is best positioned to capitalize on the software defined data center segment. The firm raised its price target on the stock to $115 a share from $99 a share.

     

    The current short interest as a percentage of the float for VMware is very high at 23%. That means that out of the 80.64 million shares in the tradable float, 18.46 million shares are sold short by the bears. The bears have also been increasing their bets from the last reporting period by 1.5%, or by about 272,000 shares. If the bears get caught pressing their bets into a strong quarter, then shares of VMW could easily surge sharply higher post-earnings as the shorts jump to cover some of their positions.

     

    From a technical perspective, VMware is currently trending above both its 50-day and 200-day moving averages, which is bullish. This stock has been uptrending for the last three months, with shares moving higher from its low of $86.88 to its recent high of $112.89 a share. During that move, shares of VMW have been making mostly higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action.

     

    If you’re bullish on VMW, then I would wait until after its report and look for long-biased trades if this stock manages to break out above some near-term overhead resistance levels at $104.50 to $107.50 a share with high volume. Look for volume on that move that hits near or above its three-month average action of 2.43 million shares. If that breakout kicks off post-earni