As investors worry about greater market volatility looming in 2023, Trivariate Research offers up some cheap, quality stocks that can be used to play defense. Stocks are off to a strong start in 2023, with all three major averages set to finish off a positive first month to the calendar year. Even so, the threat of a recession later in the year has investors seeking to protect their portfolios. Yet investors struggle to find attractive stocks that are traditionally defensive, according to Trivariate Research. For example, the firm said that utilities with expanding dividends are trading at a premium compared to stocks in other sectors raising dividends. Consumer staples companies, too, are also historically expensive. “We coined the phrase ‘expensive defensives’ several years ago when this same dynamic of extended valuation on traditional defensive industries also unfolded. Defensives are once again expensive today,” Trivariate Research’s Adam Parker wrote this month. One way investors can find some attractive defensive names would be to look for cheap, quality stocks with low volatility. Trivariate searched for names with a beta below 0.8 (the market beta is 1.0, so a beta below 1.0 means a stock is less volatile than the rest of the market); in the top quartile of Trivariate’s high quality model; with a price-to-forward earnings under 12x; and cheap relative to its own history. Here are 10 names. Pfizer is a defensive stock that is compellingly valued, according to the screen. Not only does it have a volatility of 0.53, but it looks cheap, with a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 11.1x. The pharmaceutical stock is down more than 12% to start 2023 on expectations that the number and severity of Covid cases will stabilize. That led UBS this week to downgrade Pfizer to neutral . Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings has a beta of 0.74, and a price-to-forward earnings multiple of 13.3x. Still, Citigroup last month downgraded the health care testing stock to neutral, saying shares were “appropriately valued.” Meanwhile, Check Point Software Technologies also looks like cheap quality, and was the only technology stock that met Trivariate’s criteria, with a 0.63 beta. This month, Citi raised the stock rating to neutral, saying it’s “too cheap and too profitable to be underweight in this tape.” Check Point on Friday crossed below its 50-day moving average of $129.30, briefly trading as low as $127.77. Other stocks that made the Trivariate list included Jazz Pharmaceuticals and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company . — CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.