These are Wall Street’s favorite ‘low-vol’ plays heading into a likely tumultuous period for stocks

As Wall Street enters its fourth-straight week of selling with more Federal Reserve rate hikes on the horizon, many investors are looking for less volatile areas of the market to ride out a murky few months ahead. Consumer and investor sentiment remain low, while market volatility measures have ticked upward in recent weeks. Even some positive pieces of economic data appear to have sparked declines in the stock market, as investors try to forecast the next moves from central bankers. “Volatility is likely for the foreseeable future,” U.S. Bank Wealth Management chief equity strategist Terry Sandven said in a note to clients on Tuesday. With that backdrop in mind, CNBC Pro set out to find Wall Street’s favorite stocks with low volatility qualities. The stocks below are the members of the iShares MSCI USA Min Vol Factor ETF with the highest approval ratings from Wall Street analysts, according to data from FactSet. Source: FactSet The top-rated company on the list in natural gas infrastructure firm Cheniere Energy . The stock has a buy rating from 81% of analysts, according to FactSet, even after climbing more than 50% year to date. And at least one analyst at a top shop believes his peers are still too bearish on the company. Morgan Stanley’s Devin McDermott, who has an overweight rating on the stock, sees Cheniere beating earnings estimates handily through 2024. The stock on the list with the highest upside to its analyst price target is Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings at 34.3%. The stock has struggled this year after rising sharply during 2020 and 2021, when the Covid pandemic drove demand for medical testing. Health-care stocks are also seen as defensive and less volatile than the market as a whole. UnitedHealth Group and Horizon Therapeutics are two other health names on the list. The other stocks on the list with more than 30% upside include credit card giants Visa and Mastercard . Both stocks have fallen less than the S & P 500 this year, and they also offer a small dividend. While many on Wall Street are concerned about a potential recession, analysts for the credit card companies remain bullish. Argus analyst Stephen Biggar reiterated his buy rating on Mastercard after the company’s second-quarter earnings report and wrote “we expect spending volume to continue to improve in nearly all categories.” — CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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