The following video is part of our "Motley Fool Conversations" series, in which John Reeves and David Meier discuss topics across the investing world.

In today's edition, they discuss the tough economic environment and how investors might protect their portfolios in 2012. Dave offers up three defensive stock ideas. He also discusses three companies he'd steer clear of in current conditions.

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.