4 Top Merrill Lynch US Defensive Stock Ideas for Q4

Just finishing up the worst quarter in the stock market in four years has left a pretty unpleasant taste not only in investors’ mouths, but in the mouths of many of the top firms on Wall Street that we cover. A new research report from Merrill Lynch includes the firm’s top 10 U.S. ideas for the fourth quarter. They have eight stocks rated Buy and two rated Underperform. The stocks to buy are decidedly on the safe side and defensive in nature.

While the Merrill Lynch team acknowledges that the top 10 U.S. ideas are based on their prevailing view that the chosen companies could have the most significant market and business related catalysts over the next three months, they still are not going very far out on the risk limb. We picked four to buy that offer nice diversification.


This top consumer media company got absolutely hammered after earnings that were less than expected prompted a big fear that consumers are “cutting the cable cord.” Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) is on the Merrill Lynch US1 list. The movie studio business is poised to improve, as with accelerating theme park business, and the network programming continues to drive viewership with extensive sports programming. Most importantly, Disney produces tons of content that will keep it a long-term media alternative, and recently announced that Star Wars-themed lands will be coming to Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.

The Disney Media Networks segment operates broadcast and cable television networks, domestic television stations, and radio networks and stations, and it is involved in television production and television distribution operations. Its cable networks include ESPN, Disney Channels and ABC Family, as well as UTV/Bindass and Hungama. Disney is also one of 24/7 Wall St. top 10 stocks to own for the next decade.

Disney shareholders are paid a 1.33% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target for the stock is $130, and the Thomson Reuters consensus target is $118.57. Shares closed most recently at $102.67.

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