Of all of the possible defensive investment choices available, healthcare funds are doing the best, up 2.8% year-to-date, The Wall Street Journal reports. Strong earnings, healthy balance sheets, steady demand and industry consolidation are fortifying the sector, which is even beating telecommunications and consumer staples.

“There aren’t a lot of places where you can put money and be comfortable right now, but healthcare is one of them. It’s kind of the lone world” said Dean Kartsonas, manager of the Federated Capital Appreciation Fund.

“People are hard-pressed to cut out their health expenditures,” said Christopher Davis, an analyst with Morningstar.

Even consumer staples are getting hit by consumers bargain shopping, while telecommunications companies are losing market share to cable operators.

But over the trailing 12 months, healthcare mutual funds are still down, by 16.8%. Put in perspective, however, that is far better than utilities funds’ 31.4% average loss and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s 36.5% tumble. And research-intensive, capital-intensive healthcare stocks, as well as medical facilities that offer elective procedures, are not doing well, and many portfolio managers say they are avoiding them.

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