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The consumer staples sector - big stable companies with reliable cash flows and strong balance sheets - is often referred to as 'defensive' because the stocks perform well in the market even when everything else is falling apart. People can be relied on to always buy food and shampoo. But years of cheap debt have seen some of these companies, many of which face disruptive forces from changing consumer trends, take on leverage to see through big M&A deals, reshaping balance sheets and bringing into question the defensive qualities of their businesses. The size of these companies is so large that there is concern that a de-rating of their debt could even up-end the whole market. 

Richard Edgar, Editor in Chief, is joined by two of Fidelity's analysts who have taken a closer look at the issue: Gita Bal, Director of Research and Senior Credit Analyst, and Heidi Rauber, Senior Equity Analyst.

We also hear from three portfolio managers - Matt Siddle, Aneta Wynimko, and Kris Atkinson - about why views on what makes a defensive stock are changing.

Ways to listen

Richard Edgar

Richard Edgar

Editor in Chief